When most think of the word “comfort”, I imagine it invokes feelings of pleasure; something to be desired. Most want to live in comfort. Strangely enough, I seemed to thrive on being uncomfortable. Coupled with my propensity to wrestle and fight, as strange as it may seem, I desired discomfort over comfort.
I have come to believe that my thirst for discomfort was a form of self-punishment or self-medication; similar to someone cutting or drowning their hurt by turning to drugs or alcohol. I sought discomfort out of the false belief that I deserved to be miserable. God, in His goodness and grace, wasn’t about to leave me there.
I believe many abuse victims, myself included, prefer to live uncomfortably…it’s a familiar place; it’s what has been reinforced in our lives. I liken it to that torn, dirty, smelly blanket toddlers prefer to carry around—it’s nasty but provides familiar comfort. The Israelites knew this same type of comfort.
While I have personally come to believe deeply in the truths of the Bible and stories contained, even one who doesn’t is able to find practical lessons in them. I relate my discomfort to that of the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. They had been slaves for hundreds of years. God led them out of slavery and into the wilderness where He taught them how to truly live as free people. Having never known freedom, they were at the mercy of the Egyptians who dictated their every move and controlled all the circumstances in their lives. Now they had to trust the LORD with their lives. Though God provided their every need, they still struggled to accept this new life. Slavery was unpleasant, but it was the “nasty blanket” they preferred to carry around; finding comfort in the familiar.
Now their circumstances had drastically changed. They were no longer slaves but they were still uncomfortable. Anyone who has been a slave to past trauma can relate to these people. You find comfort in being and living as a victim. It is all you know and it is where you find comfort. When you are freed from such slavery you must learn a new way to live. You must learn to live FREE. It is not as easy as it sounds. I know this. I felt like a slave to the abuse of my past. But let’s look further into this story:
Not long into their freedom we find the Israelites crying out. As I said, they are not comfortable in their new circumstances. Their nasty blanket is gone and they don’t like it. They claim they would rather go back to being slaves in Egypt than to fend for themselves. Again, I can relate. Healing from abuse is hard and at times it brings up memories and effects that I would rather not deal with. At times I felt like the healing was more difficult than the slavery. Sadly, many who felt like I did opt to go back into their chains.
The good news is that if you persevere through your wilderness, you will eventually enter your Promised Land the way the Israelites did. That land is worth every struggle, every pain, all the time and hard effort. I know because I have experienced all three stages: life as a prisoner, life in the wilderness, and New Life in the New Land.
If you have been abused, please know that healing is possible. Healing is not easy and will take a long time. You will have to be willing to give up some of your comforts, but eventually those will be replaced with greater things. I encourage you to step out of your slavery and into the wilderness…it will lead you to your Promised Land.
The Bible is not silent when it comes to comfort.
“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 have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Ahhh…the comfort that comes from the Spirit of God. It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. It’s where I want to live. It is what the LORD has graciously and SLOWLY given to me, but not without much time and persistent effort. God’s comfort is abnormal to us and is not about making us physically or emotionally comfortable. God’s comfort does not come to give us everything our flesh desires…a type of “spoiled spirituality”. It is a Me-Centered faith that views the gifts of God as a means to getting things that we selfishly want. This does not bring comfort. It actually creates in us an insatiable appetite for personal lusts to be fulfilled…things that can never satisfy. This is why James 4:3 says, “When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
On the contrary, God’s comfort comes with a God-Centered faith. This is the faith that says “not my will be done, but Yours, Oh LORD.” This is the faith that Jesus modeled: “I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me,” John 5:30. This is the kind of faith that is willing to deny self and die to self so that you no longer live but Christ lives in you. (Galatians 2:20).
This faith and subsequent comfort does not come easily. It requires change, repentance, and death…”I have been crucified with Christ.” My own road can attest to the difficulty of receiving such comfort from God. As one who had been sexually abused as a child, can I even trust the LORD to bring comfort? If a good and sovereign God allowed me to face such trauma, can I trust Him for comfort?
This was not an easy question that could be answered quickly for me. Yet it is precisely this type of question that we must be willing to wrestle with. Now wrestling…there is a place I am comfortable.
Comfort is a strange word to me. While most want to live in comfort; I seem to thrive on the opposite. Yet, as the LORD has graciously worked in me, I have become more comfortable with the idea of comfort…as far as it is defined Spiritually.
Spiritual comfort is trusting the LORD…believing in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Spiritual comfort brings the peace that transcends all understanding mentioned in Philippians 4:7. We desire this peace, but are we willing to follow the instructions? This peace, and I believe the comfort we desire, comes from ALWAYS rejoicing in the Lord. Before Paul mentions this peace; he instructs to rejoice, to not be anxious about anything (to trust the LORD), and to pray.
Are you willing to follow those instructions? Will your flesh yield to the Spirit? Can you trust in the LORD…especially in the area of handing over to Him the hurts of the past…that is, giving up all vengeance and unforgiveness to the Lord? To the flesh, this is not comfortable. What is comfortable to the flesh is vengeance. If you have been hurt or wronged, you want to get even. Believe me, I know!
Thanks be to the grace of God, He did not leave me in such condition. As the LORD has drawn me into Him, and as I obey and submit, that discomfort is being replaced with joy and peace.
My prayer for you is that God will take you on a similar journey. Yours will be different than mine, but the end result will be comfort. The end result will be a New Life that you never knew possible. The journey starts with seeking the LORD. “I sought the LORD and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are RADIANT; their faces are never covered in shame.” Psalm 30:11-12.