It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes.
C.S. Lewis, Problem of Pain
I would rather see my sons, husband, and friends suffer than sit around in comfy, happy contemptible modes, estranged from God and blind to his glory and power.
Because comfort— as in comfortable—is overrated. For some, comfort may even rise to the level of a god. When we sacrifice our time and money and even our health for Comfort, and our lifeblood for ease and security, it just might be an idol.
Comfort isn’t just an end-game. It’s so very daily. Have a headache? Down three Advil the second it strikes. Sadness? There are drinks and pills for those, too. Feet up, favorite beverage in hand, remote at arm’s reach and we are all set.
Because the world knows pain-free and comfortable is clearly the best the way to be.
Unpleasant Discipline Brings Good Fruit
Comfortable is not the best way to be. At least for any well-being. Any well being. Anyone who really is alive in Christ and growing. This is not to say we enjoy pain for the sake of pain. But it is to say that we embrace it for the sake of gain.
The Lord disciplines those he loves. That’s Hebrews 12. God is not talking punishment. Sometimes he does. But this is discipline. What we do when we have our kids practice piano and make their beds and do their homework well. What we do when we get ourselves to bed by ten and eat more veggies and listen before we speak.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline. The truth is, if we’re not disciplined, we not really God’s kids.
Hebrews 12:10-11 goes on to say that great gain outcome of the unpleasant, discomfort of discipline.
[B]ut he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
That’s the gain. Discipline allows us to share his holiness. Without holiness, no one can see God.
No Comfort Zones
We were meant to delight ourselves in the Lord and everything God created is good and nothing is meant to be rejected if we accept it with thanksgiving. Yes and amen ! We do exist for the praise of his glorious grace. Our goal is to make that known. To make the power, glory and grace of Christ known.
And sometimes his grace makes us comfortable. But not always. And sometimes God might look great when we’re in our comfort zones. But more often he looks great when these frames of ours are pressed and squeezed and we praise him still. Not when we’re Laz-E-Boy, hot cocoa comfortable.
Because comfort zones sound like grooves. And there’s a fine line between grooves and ruts. When we are comfortable, we are prone to neglect God. We don’t pray as much when life is going swimmingly.
Outside of the comfort zone is where God’s power happens. In the “day of trouble” we tend to call.
God likes that. Saviors look great. Redeemers look divine. Deliverers look glorious. But when we’re comfortable, we need none of the above: no Savior, no Redeemer, no Deliverer. We’re set.
You might say I’m hard-nosed. That’s okay. Insofar as it means realistic and determined and sober-minded, I’ll take it. Because the very next words in Hebrews 12 say, in effect, buck up. Get up and keep going and help others up too. Then, keep on running the race marked out for you.
Therefore lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed (Hebrews 12:12-13).
And thank God he gives us difficult things to do. Oswald Chambers says salvation is a heroic, holy thing,
It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many “sons” unto glory, and God will shield us from the the requirements of a son. God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things.
We must bear up in discomfort, lift up your drooping hands, and trust that discipline is intended for our good. Because as Christians, we have a single goal.
God wants glory by showcasing the life of his beloved Son in us. The glory that comes when, We are afflicted, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also by manifested in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).
That’s the goal. Our aim is that the Son of God be glorified in us.
It doesn’t matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh, wrote Oswald Chambers. May God not find the whine in us any more, but may he find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything he brings. We have to exercise ourselves so that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. The only aim in life is that the Son of God be manifested in our mortal flesh.
God is jealous for his own glory and when we die to self the treasure in our earthen vessels flows most powerfully through. That’s why we who live must die.
Which takes tremendous spiritual pluck.
Tremendous Spiritual Pluck
It’s why we must carry around in our body the death of Jesus, must deny ourselves, must put to death the deeds of the body. That the glory of Christ may be seen is why. And dying to self is never comfortable. It takes “tremendous spiritual pluck,” as Oswald would say. When we are hardest pressed is when the power and glory, the sweet aroma of Christ, overflows.
So it’s actually a good thing when our little house of cards comes tumbling down and sends us back on our way. Trying a thing and failing, falling flat does not feel good.
But falling at least means we’re standing, if not running (Ephesians 6:13, Hebrews 12:2). There aren’t many falls from recliners.
Author Michael Hyatt reached the same conclusion. In a recent blog post, he explains “Why Discomfort Is Good For You.” Here are his top three reasons:
- Comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It makes us lazy- and forgetful. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent.
- Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt.
- Discomfort is a sign we’re making progress. “No pain, no gain” is as true spiritually as it is physically. When you push yourself to grow, you will experience discomfort.
We make it our goal to please God. And the measure of God’s pleasure is not our ease. Cozy and reclining is no proof that God is pleased. It’s when we’re out of the comfort zone and standing on the Rock that we see God’s glory and grow strong in our faith.
- Like when our missionary friends in South Sudan lost their compound guard and friend in an attack and wrote, We have seen the hand of God leading us on this trail of tears.
- And when my 20-something, single friend caught her co-workers off guard when she told them she’d be away for chemo for six months and added, God’s still good and caring for me.
- Or when a friend told the truth in love for the sake of peace in his family but his peacemaking cost more than he thought, but he smiled and said, At least I tried. Peace is why He died.
These three took a stand. They know that comfort zones become grooves become ruts. That La-Z-Boys are not be the best place to manifest the life of Christ. That this side of heaven, comfortable is not all it’s made out to be.
They all know what we know. That comfort is overrated.
Dear God of All Comfort, thank you for caring enough to discipline us. Please remind us when we feel hard pressed and squeezed that you discipline us for our good, so we can share in your holiness and really see you. Thank you for the discipline of discomfort that brings us to the place where your power and Christ’s life shine through us. Thank you for putting your treasure in jars of clay.