As our friend pondered the tragic loss of a family member last year, he wondered, “Why do I never feel comfortable when I’m mourning? Doesn’t God promise to comfort us in our grief?”
Americans are all about being comfortable. We don’t even know what the weather feels like most of the time, unless it’s so glorious we decide to risk it and go outside.
We don’t usually have to suffer heat, cold, or hunger, so we opt out of those inconveniences. We use running water without a second thought, and holler our protests if someone dares flush while we are in the shower.
We’re a pretty spoiled bunch.
There’s a great deal that we have learned to control. But what happens when our comfort is no longer a matter of turning up the air conditioner or flipping on the light switch?
What happens when the pain is unavoidable and it threatens to engulf our souls?
Our friend who asked the question about grief figured out the difference between comfort and comfortable. While they share a root word, the concepts are worlds apart.
Comfortable: “Not having any physically unpleasant feelings : experiencing physical comfort…allowing you to be relaxed : causing no worries, difficulty, or uncertainty.”
Comfort: “To give strength and hope to : cheer…to ease the grief or trouble of: console.”
See the difference?
Being comfortable is all about avoiding pain. Comfort, on the other hand, is about receiving what you need in the midst of life’s unavoidable hard times.
Here’s a fantastic promise:
“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 Corinthians 1:2-4
The same Holy Spirit who inspired Paul to write these words also inspired David to write of a Shepherd who comforts us in the dark valleys of life. Jesus himself promises us affliction in this life, but tells us not to let our hearts be troubled.
Americans spend billions of dollars each year on pain medications. Unfortunately, there’s no ibuprofen for the soul, much as we would like it. But there is something better.
God’s comfort is available to help and to heal.
If you’re going through a dark valley right now, I’m so sorry.
I can’t promise you that you’ll be comfortable in your grief, but I can promise you something greater — something of eternal significance.
The Father of compassion and God of all comfort is right there in this with you. He is the one who sweeps together the fragments of your soul and holds you close to his heart until you are mended again.
As God comforts you, you’ll be able to turn around and comfort someone else.
We’ll continue this passing on of God’s comfort until we all rejoice in his presence, our tears wiped away once for all by his tender grace.
Until then, don’t fret about whether you are comfortable or not.
Rest in the strength, hope and consolation that the God of all comfort offers you.