To whom or to what do you turn when you need comfort?
One of the hallmarks of our time is an impulse to medicate as a way of seeking comfort. It’s telling that we have a phrase — “comfort food” — to describe our tendency to turn to calories when we’re stressed or depressed. Over two-thirds of Americans admit to turning to some sort of “comfort food” as a pick-me-up at the end of a bad day. Pizza, chocolate, mac ‘n cheese and ice cream typically top the list of favorite American comfort foods. Using food as a way of medicating our stress might make us feel better for a little while…but you know as well as I do that when we make it to the bottom of that quart of ice cream, our problems are still there.
At other times we choose the alluring escapism provided by technology. So we’ll binge-watch an entire TV show on Netflix over the course of a weekend or we’ll endlessly scroll through our social media feeds or we’ll throw ourselves into the immersive world of our favorite video game. (Fortnite, anyone?) And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of that, we have to acknowledge that escapism is simply another form of medication which does nothing to treat the real source of our stress and discomfort.
Thankfully, there is a comfort that transcends the fleeting comforts of YouTube and pizza rolls. But all too often, we settle for the wrong forms of comfort because we’re looking for comfort in all the wrong places. There is no comfort like the Lord’s comfort. If you’ve ever experienced His comfort, you know this to be true.
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
Look at the universal language Paul uses:
- God is the God of all comfort.
- He comforts us in all our troubles.
- And this so we can comfort those in any trouble.
Grief and sorrow and pain are universal. As I mentioned in my earlier post, everyone hurts. But the universal nature of grief and pain is matched by the universal nature of God’s comfort. Because God is the God of all comfort, we know He cares about our pain.
And this knowledge is transformative. I talked this week with a young man whose story greatly touched my heart. The only word to describe his current circumstances would be nightmarish. An automobile accident years ago claimed the life of his five-year-old son. Two of his children continue to deal with debilitating injuries as a result of the wreck. Another child is deaf while yet another deals with learning disabilities. For this young father, these challenges are compounded by the fact that his wife is seeking a divorce. And there are even more circumstances he deals with that I simply cannot share. Suffice it to say, this man’s life has been devastated by pain at nearly every turn recently.
And yet…it seems that for the people of God, there is always an “and yet.”
And yet, his faith in God remains. More than that, his faith flourishes. How is this possible? Given all that he has endured — the suffering in his own family and the ensuing pain he feels — he spoke to me with clear eyes about his conviction in a God whose mercies is new every morning. “He has been so faithful,” he said. “I don’t know what I would do without Him.”
This is a man who knows what it means to suffer.
Moreover, this is a man who also knows the God of all comfort.
Because God is the God of all comfort, we know He cares completely.