When my body aches, I seek relief. When my stomach senses emptiness, I eat. When anxiety looms, I silence my thoughts.
Little frustrations tick me off. Disappointments get me down. Most of my prayers center on comfort.
Today I am stopped by the words of a certain godly man. My spirit squirms. I sense a lack of spiritual depth that Christians in other times and places knew. Thoughts that perhaps I am ruled more by a desire for comfort in the here and now than a desire for spiritual maturity.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:2-5 ESV
Might comfort be my god?
Sure, I could blame it on the culture. I grew up with the instant gratification of microwaves and the belief that medical science could solve anything. Insurance can be had to eliminate the discomfort of risk. And on it goes.
If, every time we face discomfort by seeking comfort, we perpetuate our love and reliance on the temporal. But if we respond as James advises, we grow in godly character—an asset in this life and the next.
Not every problem can be solved. Some circumstances can’t be escaped. We need to discern when to seek to change the things we can. James advises us to ask God for wisdom ... not for comfort.
God created us with nerves to sense pain and a stomach that senses hunger for a reason—survival. He wants us to care for our bodies and get adequate nutrition. Pain indicates something is wrong.
I’m not advocating fasting for weeks or sleeping on a bed of nails. But I wonder if I am too focused on comfort. For we tend toward discontentment and impatience, and not toward gratitude, when all our sensory needs are quickly met.
James doesn’t say to seek trials, but he does say to greet them joyfully. To see the value of enduring and growing in patience. We have been called out of darkness into light, not into the pursuit of comfort. (God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light. I Peter 2:9 GNB)
I’m asking God for wisdom how to live a counter-cultural life of pursuing God, not merely a life of comfort. How about you?