I remember the first car I ever owned that had leather seats with heat warmers and an automatic starter. No longer did I have to dart to the car, chilled to the bone and praying for warmth while waiting for the heat to kick in. It wasn’t anything terribly fancy or new but it transformed my cold winter mornings!
I’ll be the first one to admit I like comfort. My guess is, you do too.
Just listen to almost anyone’s conversation and it won’t take you long to hear the howling of complaints. You name it, we grumble about it. Traffic. Our kids’ school schedule. The weather. Our jobs. Family. The church we go to. Not having enough money. All cries of discomfort.
Some of the cries are right and legitimate, tethered to deep sadness, loss, and disappointment. Others, silly and insignificant, clouded by the absence of bigger problems. But on some level, we are all comfort junkies. Addicted to easy and convenient. Which is why we hate any intruder that threatens our vision of the good life.
One of the dangers in all of this is that we falsely connect our comfort to God’s character. If we are comfortable, then God must be good and loving. If we’re not, God must be cruel, distant, or worse, non-existent.
Eventually, something small, or something big, pokes at our idol of comfort. Discomfort rears its ugly head. For me, it was cancer. For you, something different, maybe harder or scarier. It’s all uncomfortable. Physically. Emotionally. And certainly spiritually.
But as I read the Scriptures, I am increasingly made aware that God is up to something far more important than my comfort. This side of heaven, there is something greater going on than my ease. My comfort, or lack thereof, is not a commentary on His character.
I am just as tempted at times, as maybe you are, to believe the myth that God’s goal is my comfort. Therefore, when comfort goes missing, I can easily buy into the myth that only a comfortable life is the proof of a wise, powerful, faithful, and loving Father.
Undoubtedly, suffering was not God’s plan. He hates evil. All of the sickness, pain, disease, loss, and death we experience is the result of Adam and Eve’s first sin (Genesis 3). But God can and does use suffering for His redemptive purposes. For our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
So why crush the idol of comfort? Because it’s not God’s goal. Nor is it always good, especially if it replaces God Himself. It’s often an obstacle to the restorative work God wants to do in each of us through the power of His Spirit. God is far more concerned with who we are becoming – our character. And God will often use discomfort, big or small, to bring about real life change, lasting transformation, and Christlikeness.
When the Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Rome, he said, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
What is it that has you uncomfortable right now? Be careful of making wrong assumptions about God’s goodness and His love. Remember that God is producing something in you, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Sometimes at first, it might feel like He is destroying you. But He’s remaking you, casting you into something new and better and more glorious than you were before. And most importantly, He’s drawing you closer to Himself.
Patrick Schwenk is a husband, father, pastor, and author. Along with his, wife, Patrick is the creator of For the Family and the author of For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House.