Comfort is no sin, if it has been placed in our hands or it has been put within our grasp as an option, or it is provided by God in pain. But, if comfort is something so alluring that we need to create it – like, there is a need for a particular type of comfort – a comfort that looks away from God – then comfort is a sin. It is a sin that I occasionally struggle with; a first world problem. My comfort inevitably is manifested in food; in things I can taste. Even my personality profile would indicate that the “sensates” are my biggest temptation.
Stepping away from comfort, from comfort eating particularly, is my great and ongoing challenge. I have no other real struggle, but, for me, this burden is enough. And in our society, where food is so prevalent, available, and enticing, you may share my struggle, personally.
This struggle is in many ways an ongoing one until new patterns of habit are formed. And again, the struggle is more about discernment and discipline than it is about rules of engagement, like the new fad diet, which fail all too often. We are to receive those comforts that God has ordained we have, but we are to resist those comforts that we can take for our own – those, for instance, that we cannot afford; those that are unwise or unsustainable; those that affect our relationships adversely.
The struggle is not one of engagement, but it is one of abstinence; and it is very difficult to abstain from food altogether. But God is not asking for that. The opportunity that the Spirit presents is to step away from comfort. Stepping away from comfort is helped by the following steps:
1. Admitting to ourselves that we have little control over the need for comfort.
2. Admitting this lack before God and another person propounds the need for God.
3. Discovering when and why we go to comfort, which requires rigorous honesty.
4. Determining those, including ourselves, who we have hurt in the process of procuring comfort for ourselves, for instance, if it has implicated spending, it may be that the family that has suffered or it has created conflict.
5. Were entirely prepared to forego the taking of those comforts – to make the commitment to God and allow his Spirit to lead; to allow comforts to be God designed, ordained and timed.
6. We devised the plan that we needed to institute in order that we would no longer take our comfort. We made those commitments to ourselves and to God.
7. One day at a time we determined a fresh approach, beginning each new day, that yesterday was gone, and the only day that counted was this day.
8. We maintained our resolve one day at a time, and, where we felt ourselves wavering back into comfort, we went back to God and sought him through prayer.
9. Over all this we received God’s grace, which is the inevitable forgiveness to know that we are broken people needing comfort, which means we need God, and are thankful that we know him and can receive what we need when we ask.
Comfort is no sin unless we take comfort, and especially the wrong comfort. Comfort is our human need and God knows we need it. The Lord will provide the best available comfort if we ask him.
The world’s comfort brings pain, but pain brings us to the doorstep of God’s comfort.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.