2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Comfort: to ease the grief or trouble of; console
Um, God? That Makes Me Uncomfortable!
When I am in crisis and wracked by grief or discouragement, God’s comfort is a balm that reaches down into the very heart of me. It’s no small thing to be comforted by God. All the barriers between us, real or imagined, fall away and then it’s just God and me. For a moment, I know with absolute certainty that I am not alone and never will be again. That is the comfort that I want for the people I love when they’re hurting. There’s nothing better in this world! But what happens when God isn’t just sovereign over my affliction but actively spearheading it? I confess that the following statement has been made very often in my walk with the Lord: “God, that makes me uncomfortable.”
The word ‘uncomfortable’ covers a rather wide range of feeling, from mildly perturbed to a state of distress for which comfort seems impossible. Since the day I turned to God, He’s run me through the full range. And not without purpose! I don’t have the time or space here to cover all the purposes that the Spirit has revealed to me so far, but I want to touch on at least two: flexibility and empathy.
That Makes Me Uncomfortable because I’m Inflexible
I like comfort and I like to be comfortable. I’m rather hobbit-like in my approach to daily life. I prefer a little life with quiet joys. No big drama or dangerous adventure, please! And that’s fine if I move with the flexibility of the Spirit when God overrides my preference and injects the unexpected into my life…but I usually don’t. My inflexible adherence to what I want requires breaking, and that means a fair amount of discomfort.
God wants a vessel that will go where He says, when He says it. He asks for my mouth to speak when He has something to say. God wants a heart that loves who He wants to love, how He wants to love them – regardless of whether that violates my natural preferences. These are just a few of the benefits of flexibility. No human being is as flexible as God, so we all have to be broken of our rigidity. And it really isn’t fun!
I’ve been creeped out, accosted, offended, hurt, grossed out, humiliated, terrified, and had my personal space violated repeatedly. And God didn’t apologize to me for doing it. Instead He gave me a picture:
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [preeminently] sinful?
But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well (healthy) have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick.
Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin).
Matthew 9:11-13 AMP
I started to bow a little quicker after that. I told God that I was willing to love the sick, whatever that might look like. And He said, “Good, because what do you think you are?” Talk about uncomfortable! That retort speared my pride like Ahab speared old Moby! Flexibility isn’t optional for disciples of Jesus Christ, and He’s faithful to do all that must be done to make us so.
That Makes Me Uncomfortable because I Lack Empathy
The second purpose for God pushing me out of my comfort zone is to increase my empathy. Empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feeling, to put yourself in their shoes. I wasn’t devoid of empathy when I came to the Lord, but I had very serious limits on the empathy I had. Christians are called to love their enemies. We don’t just forgive them, we are called to LOVE them. With my limited empathy, that was an impossibility. So God pressed me and pushed me and smashed my neat little fences. I was made to feel very uncomfortable indeed.
God doesn’t expose me to pain and evil for no reason. If anything, I sometimes wonder whether I’m the only one who will love the wicked troll enough to cry out to God for their soul. What if no one else is willing to weep over them? Care enough to confront them? Wrestle with the principality that holds them fast? When I was vile and wicked and goblinesque, someone loved me enough to do all those things. I didn’t come through to the Light without Christ’s own empathy filling the hearts of His disciples to battle for my soul. That’s the unexpected gift of receiving Jesus’ empathy for others – you see yourself more truly.
I love the comfort of God, but I’m learning to love being made uncomfortable, too. If God had no purpose for my life then He wouldn’t bother investing in me this way. That changes how I view getting thrown into the deep end of the pool. We belong to a God that cannot, will not be boxed. And if you are truly His disciple, you don’t get to stay in your boxes either. As disciples of Jesus, we get to say, “That makes me uncomfortable, God. Thank You!”
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 AMP