Nine in the morning rolls around and honestly, I still don’t “need” to rise and shine. Instead, I hit snooze on my alarm, throw the covers over my head and start brainstorming ideas about how I’m going to spend the next fourteen hours of the day. This isn’t my normal weekday routine. In fact, it was only a month ago that by this time of the day I would have already ran three miles, had two meals prepped, coached one fitness class and probably be on my third cup of coffee while heading into morning meetings.
I always use to be on the go, grinding out work, rushing to the next meeting and getting things checked off the list.
At first, when we received news that we were on a “Shelter in Place” order, I was a little excited. It was like we had an extra-long weekend to enjoy at home. However, the excitement quickly wore off as being forced to spend one week at home turned into spending two weeks at home and two weeks extended into the end of the month and the end date is still undetermined. Not to mention my classes moved online, my work was shut down, my long-awaited trips got canceled, my own wedding had to get pushed back and to top it all off, I still haven’t successfully found a store stocked with toilet paper.
I’m far from comfortable with the COVID-19 lifestyle. It’s lonely not being able to see my friends. It’s financially stressful to not be working. It’s honestly boring to be unable to travel and stuck in a house all day. However, I’m reminded that there’s actually a gift to being uncomfortable right now. The beauty of discomfort and disruption is that it’s an invitation to reveal and refine our false senses of security, our temporary comforts and our circumstantial peace.
As I look at the neighbors, the nation and even the world I’m overcome by the anxiety, stress and fear that’s stirring among us. As a Christian, I know we are called to respond differently than the world around us. We know that anxiety, stress and fear shouldn’t be our response. So what should?
Christians talk a lot about peace and comfort but it’s also important to know what and where the definitions of these words come from. We attribute peace and comfort to the things that make us feel good. When I think of peace, I think of tranquility, being free from disturbance and any situation void of conflict. When I think of comfort I think of being free from pain, physical ease, and maybe even a warm hug.
But as I’ve been reading Scripture and praying for God’s perspective in all of this I‘ve heard God repeating this phrase again and again to me: “Danea, don’t mistake your comfort for my goodness…”
Talk about instant conviction.
The Bible talks about God’s peace and His comfort and what’s interesting is that the biblical definitions of these words don’t rest or rely on the environment or the present circumstances. Anything that depends on an environment or a circumstance will be unsteady in nature, constantly changing, the same one day and different the next.
Comfort and peace in the biblical sense aren’t circumstantial. They’re accessible at all times and in all circumstances because it’s not an environment that creates their availability to us. Comfort in the Bible doesn’t reference a life void of pain. In fact, Biblical comfort isn’t a state of ease at all, it’s actually referencing a person. The Bible talks about the “Comforter” in reference to the Holy Spirit, which is God’s manifested presence to His believers. “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18.
Furthermore, biblical peace isn’t circumstance void of disruption, it’s the presence of a person. The Bible says that we will go through disruption, tribulation and even suffering on earth. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” says 1 Peter 4:12-13.
We are promised that life will have hardship and trials but we can be at peace because we know we are in the presence of the One who has already won it all. As John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The person of comfort and the person of peace is the person of God— the One who is unchanging in all circumstances, all environments, the One who has defeated the enemy, stomped the gates of hell and made Himself personally available to us and in us.
I want to urge you in the midst of this discomfort, when many are seeking relief from what’s happening around us, that Biblical peace and comfort don’t necessarily mean that our environment or things that happen in life are going to feel “good” to us all the time. It’s easy to unknowingly reduce His goodness to be anything that adds to our present prosperity but just because it brings instant prosperity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s God’s good will for you.
I’ve actually been radically humbled at the times where God’s goodness is revealed in things like a pay cut, a conversational conflict, a declined promotion, an unexpected move, a failed relationship or a financial hardship. I actually realize that many of those situations have been some of the most sanctifying transformations of my life. Which leads me to reflect on this present moment now, maybe this isn’t so much about changing or waiting for our present circumstance to change as much as it is about God training our perspectives to change.
God’s end goal for us isn’t to make us comfortable in the same way that He isn’t promising us a life of physical ease and tranquility. His end goal for us is to become like Him and become sanctified by His word. His greatest desire for us isn’t that we would have a life void of trial but that in every trial we would be wholly joined with Him in an everlasting and unbroken fellowship.