THE ALTAR OF COMFORT
The Bible tells us that God uses difficult circumstances to cultivate endurance and strength. That lesson is easy to accept in theory, but how quickly we forget when it’s personal! If we believe that God is in control and will use our sufferings to strengthen us, then why do we try so hard to avoid every type of pain?
In modern society, we have a tendency to worship at the altar of comfort. Even our emotions aren’t allowed to do their job anymore! Do you feel sad, lonely, agitated, unfocused, angry, or confused? Guess what? The world says there’s a pill for that. Modern-day medicine promises to take away any discomfort known to man, instantly and effortlessly. Unfortunately, the side effect of instant gratification is being numb, which can also be dangerous.
Physically, if you can’t feel pain, your life is in danger every day. People with leprosy are known to lose limbs because one of the consequences of this disease is the inability to feel pain. Leprosy attacks the nerves that connect the body to the brain, resulting in loss of sensation. If someone with this horrible disease puts their hand on a hot stove, they won’t pull it back, a splinter in their hand will go unnoticed, and even a broken foot won’t stop them from running and jumping. The injuries inflicted, if not treated properly, can even lead to amputation. God gave us the gift of pain to warn us that there is a problem to be addressed. Discomfort is one of the greatest tools our bodies have to keep us safe.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not against medicine and I’m not a fan of unnecessary suffering. In fact, I’m very thankful that God in His mercy gave someone the wisdom to discover aspirin. However, if I took medicine for my headaches every day without investigating why my head was throbbing, the side effects from the medicine could be worse than the original problem. The constant headache is pointing to a greater issue I should be focusing on instead.
Years ago, I went to a women’s conference where the guest speaker told a story about her philosophy of healing. She decided that God would be her healer in all situations. She was so passionate about this newfound revelation that she threw away all of her over-the-counter medications.
Unfortunately, the very same excitement that inspired her faith must have also burst blood vessels in her head because the next day she woke up with the worst migraine she ever had. As she franticly dug through the trash looking for her medicine, she prayed that Jesus would help her find it! The migraine was so intense the only thing that mattered was seeking relief. Her pain drove her to search for the cure.
God can use pain as a megaphone to grab our attention when we’ve become numb, busy, distracted, or disinterested. Like sheep, the human heart is tempted to wander from the Shepherd who is the source of our every need. In His goodness, He allows temporary pain to inspire us to search for the only One who can heal eternally.