- Rick LoPresti
Comforted or comfortable
God never promised His people they would be comfortable in this life. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that their walk with Him would definitely not be comfortable. He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24)." This was in direct response to Peter saying that Jesus should not suffer. When they came to arrest Jesus, Peter attempted to stop them (John 18:10). He did not understand the role suffering played in the ministry of Jesus. After Jesus arose, He told Peter he would have to die (John 21:18-19). However, Peter suffered as a Christian in the book of Acts (chapter 3-12), and wrote about suffering later (1Peter 1-4). When Jesus sent the 12 out on a mission, He repeatedly told them not everything would be smooth (Matthew 10):
1. verse 16 - I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves
2. verse 17 - they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their
3. verse 21 - the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the
children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death
4. verse 22 - ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake
5. verse 25 - If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they
call them of his household?
6. verse 34 -I came not to send peace, but a sword
7. verse 36 - a man's foes shall be they of his own household
"The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service (John 16:2)."
God did not promise us a life free from adversity in this world. "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33)." Our flesh seeks to be comfortable. Our spirit seeks for God. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)." Paul spoke of the struggle between the desire to do right that God puts in us and the weakness of the flesh (Romans 7). The flesh always attempts the take the path of least resistance. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14)." Strait is not as opposed to crooked, but as opposed to wide. It is tight and restrictive. "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1)."
God does not promise that we will be comfortable, but that we will be comforted. Comfort means consolation in difficulty, not freedom from discomfort. It also means that through the promises of God in the scriptures we have hope beyond the current circumstances (Psalm 119:50, Psalm 119:76, Romans 15:4, 1Thessalonians 4:18). Jesus called His Spirit the Comforter (John 14:16 & 26, John 15:26, John 16:7). That means helper or advocate. The disciples were troubled because Jesus told them He was going away, and would no longer be with them in the flesh (John 16). He told them this was a good thing because He would return to them in the form of His Spirit (John 14). He would not just be with them, but in them (John 14:17). Their relationship would not be more distant, but more intimate than ever. Some who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost does not go through situations alone. Their God is in them by His Spirit (Romans 8). While we are to comfort others who are troubled (1Corinthians 14:3, 2Corinthians 1:3-4 1Thessalonians 4:18, 1Thessalonians 5:11), there is no person or circumstance that can be as comforting as the presence of the Savior (Acts 9:31). So we must ask ourselves in adversity, are we seeking to be comfortable, or are we seeking His consolation and hope?