“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
(Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
“Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver…”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
(C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
I think God likes to keep us uncomfortable. Remember, our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and not a one of them led a comfortable life. David became a king, but it wasn’t a comfortable life. The apostle Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned — not exactly comfortable circumstances. And Jesus, God’s own son, lived his life on earth as an itinerant rabbi, without a settled home or material wealth.
If the champions of the faith lived in often unsettled and uncomfortable circumstances, why do we think our lives should be any different? The truth for most of us is, when we get comfortable, we forget about God. We trust to our own understanding, instead of acknowledging God in all our ways. But when our lives become less comfortable, we are more inclined to call out to God and remember that we have nothing apart from him.
In the life of our congregation, we’ve had few times that could strictly be called comfortable — we’ve seen a lot of change and growth, which is inherently uncomfortable. It can’t have always been easy for the older folks who, 30 years ago, prayed for families to come. Yes, their prayers were answered, but with those young families came new challenges, new music, new ways of doing things, a new building — uncomfortable. Those prayers continue to be answered and our church has continued to grow, which inevitably leads to more new, uncomfortable things.
But there’s a reason I quoted two of my favorite books above — we were not really made for a comfortable life. If we heed the call to an adventurous, uncomfortable life in the Lord, we will also be reminded that he is good. In all the difficult, uncomfortable circumstances we experience in our lives, God is with us and never forsakes us. One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8: 31-39, especially the last part —
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present 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 in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If Paul could rejoice in this assurance from his Roman prison, surely we can remember it in our daily lives.