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Mastering Comfort

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. psalm 119:50 Sometimes it is easy to identify those who worship comfort as they lie on the sofa eating more than they realize as their eyeballs glaze over in a television trance. Sometimes it is more subtle, shopping because it “feels good”, drinking too much too often, pushing snooze not as a break but as a rule and so on. I’m coming to see that the “they” I am mentioning is very much a “we”, including me. Eating is not where comfort masters me, but laziness and procrastination definitely are. Here is a specific way my willing submission to the master named “comfort” exposed itself to my heart recently: sprinting up a very steep hill in a race with a runner in his early 20’s. Clearly he smoked me and as he passed me and it became evident I couldn’t keep up, several things happened at once: 1) My competitive self hated it and felt helplessly out of shape. 2) Every molecule in my body was physically uncomfortable, in pain and wanting nothing more than to stop and lie down. 3) My eyes actually wanted to close and take a nap! Comfort is a masterful slave driver because he is so compelling, so urgent, and promises to save my life from pain…literally. I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! Job 16:2 That seems to be the marking of an idol, really. One who promises life yet can’t actually deliver it. For example, I learned from my sister that as long as a person is sleeping, serotonin levels stay low. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression. A depressed person thinks they need to stay in bed because they feel so low, but it turns out, they stay low as long as they stay in bed in and out of sleep. Getting up and moving about actually raises the serotonin levels in a body, aiding in the elevation of mood. I found that to be a great example of the powerfully deceptive nature of false masters or imposter gods. Come you who are uncomfortable and I will comfort you, says the bed…yet like the Sirens, their seductive lure is to rob the victim of life. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28 But there is another Master who offers comfort of a much different nature. Because He has worked, I can rest in Him. And the rest He offers is not the entitled, self-indulgent kind that simply leads to obesity and neglect of others. He offers rest from the toil of my labor as He is reversing the curse even now. The rest He offers, unlike the comfort offered by Job’s friends, does not depend upon my doing more and trying harder nor thinking better or approaching things more positively. They directed Job to a comfort apart from the person and work of Jesus where no true comfort is to be found. His comfort is resourced not deep within myself but from all of Himself poured out to me. And the end goal of His comfort is that as one who bears His image and has been given dominion over the earth, I might offer His comfort and whole life to every aspect of the creation around me. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4 As His image, I have been tasked with filling the earth with His image and subduing it to reflect Him more clearly. This morning, my little area of the creation is my office/den which has grown wild with the weeds of too many papers, unopened mail, photographs and projects. My old master comfort would suggest I delay, that it isn’t going anywhere and isn’t really urgent, but that my opportunity for comfort is urgent and might flee if I don’t grab hold of it this very minute. Jesus is a better Master, promising life and actually providing it. Isn’t a de-cluttered room far more restful than one screaming its demands at me, for example? And more than just for me, rest will then be multiplied for my family and friends who enter this small plot of His creation. His comfort extends to the nations, mine just stops with me. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. Romans 6:8-9 Death no longer has mastery over the second Adam, the first Adam or all who are identified in them. The weeds and thorns of the ground will give way, in my labor and in my heart. Oh would He restrain me from bowing to death, from submitting to the lure of closing my eyes in death rather than continuing, by faith, up the hill. Would He give me the faith and the motivation to trust His mastery over comfort as well as His comforting Mastery today.

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