The Terrible, Horrible, Wonderful Discomfort of the Jesus Life

notepad-926025_640Don’t you just love life’s little comforts?

Hot coffee in the morning, warm bed at night.

Soft clothing, acoustic guitar, warm baths, and gooey pizza. Old friends, family nearby, and a car that always starts. Medicine when I’m sick and phone calls when I’m lonely. Reward for my efforts and answers to my prayers. People who understand me or who tolerate me when I don’t and the freedom to express myself in a way people can hear.

Yes, I love my comforts.

So, why does God so clearly love my discomfort? What motivates Him to press me on to new relationships that feel stiff, like jeans dried on a clothesline? Or new adventures to places that don’t serve my kind of coffee and take me far from family? Or inconveniences like cranky cars, illnesses for which there is no medicine, and situations where I’m misunderstood or silenced?

What is to be gained by my discomfort?

This is the question I asked before the Lord removed my comforts, before He set me in a place so far outside my comfort zone I forgot my oldtent-1285181_640 address, as distant from my inner happy place as Rapunzel was from the ground, so uncomfortable with my surroundings that awkward and intolerable feel like resting places.

Now, I see, though it took a very long time of my moaning, whining, complaining, appealing, pouting, praying, seeking, fasting, relenting, forgetting, resigning, and fretting before I surrendered enough to say, “Fine. Fine. Well, Fine! If it’s Your will that I be uncomfortable until I am home with You, then I’ll remain in my discomfort but please, let me see You at work in these days. Show me how to live for you without comfort.”

And then, I was free.

refreshment-438399_640Because comforts on this side of glory are fleeting. When we have them, we should be glad but when they’re gone, we should also rejoice because clinging to them, clutching at them, trying to drag them along on a new adventure simply tethers us to what isn’t lasting, to what will perish, to things that are destined for burning. They are shadows of things to come when we’ll experience comforts designed for eternity.

Jesus told the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. Lazarus rested on Abraham as the rich man suffered on the other side of a large chasm. “And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.” Luke 16:24-25

And I think, I want comfort now but more than comfort, I want that no one I love or meet will suffer the fate of the rich man who will be without comfort forevermore. There are soldiers and firefighters and parents and medical staff who go without comforts to serve others, why should I cling to mine when the world is writhing in agony as it wrestles with early labor that will birth the end?

As we enter the season of Advent, the church considers the years of waiting for Messiah to come. For the Body of Christ, this is only a re-enactment of waiting, a remembrance, a season to honor those prophets and peoples who longed for Jesus to come. But us, we’re the advent-514849_640generation blessed to be born into the days after the waiting. For us, Jesus has come. But if we only rest in that comfort, we neglect those who still wait to know the truth.

I can see there is no wrong in comforts but there is more right in following Jesus into discomfort for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It’s not too soon to adopt the mindset of a soul with millions of years ahead, an eternity of hot coffee, warm fires, and long chats with old friends ahead. These are the days to embrace adventure and adventure is unsettling, awkward, and strange.

But as I release my grip from my mug, my warm blanket, and my familiar ways, I free my hands to reach for His and find He is the source of all Comfort. He is the oldest friend. He is the dearest family. He is the warmest fire. He is health to the bones, light to the eyes, and a sure pathway to wandering feet. He is a hand on my shoulder, warm arms in the night, and the Father watching for my return all in one.

If He never made us uncomfortable on earth, we would not know His comfort, which goes beyond all other comforts we have known. His welcome-705102_640comfort feels like home because, so it is, our home.

And adventures, even terrible, frightening, horrifying ones, can be the long dark corridors that brings us right back home into His waiting arms.

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    The Conversation

  1. Bruce Rexrode says:

    Of course I’ve read your blog while sitting in my nicely warmed house, in my comfy stuffed chair, sipping my hot Trader Joes’ coffee ?. Ahh but it’s good and appropriate guilt and I wrestle with it daily as I look for direction for the next part of life.

  2. Melanie Gibson says:

    I did pretty much the same thing as Bruce did except that I was sipping a hot cup of tea. I’m at a similar stage in my life, too.

  3. Val says:

    What a timely word. It’s been a long week with the death of a close family member and all that’s entailed with planning a funeral and hosting family and friends from afar. It’s Friday and my whole body wants to be home tonight, curled up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. Instead, I know God is calling me to bring two new friends (stiff jeans?) to a Christmas gathering tonight where they will hear the gospel…maybe for the first time? My flesh wants its comforts but my heart knows what is more important.