The Joy of Discomfort
- May 09, 2017
- Casey Costa
Fighting to be Uncomfortable
I like to imagine life as many different spectrums. For example, am I spending more time studying or am I spending more time with friends? Where am I between happy and sad? Have I been feeling more at peace or have I been stressed? One spectrum I continually come back to, and question in my life is the comfort/discomfort spectrum. I’m always either moving more toward comfort or more toward discomfort. Not just me, but I think everyone is moving one way or the other. What I’ve found over the years is that human nature is to gravitate toward comfort.
We hate being uncomfortable. It makes sense. When I go for a run I can’t wait until I’m done. I know there are some people who actually enjoy running, but the rest of us can agree that those people are a little crazy. When I get in a fight with someone, I want things to be reconciled as quickly as possible. When I’m sick, I want to feel better. I want everything to be ok again. I want to be safe and normal again.
However, I’m not sure this is the way Jesus’s early followers viewed things…
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Other similar scripture includes Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, Acts 5:41, and Romans 12:12.
Why is discomfort something in which we should not only be patient and endure, but in which we should also rejoice in and run toward? Jesus’s early followers answered this question, as well.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
Additionally, we can look to Philippians 1:29 and Romans 8:17.
The reason we should be excited, enthusiastic, and overjoyed to experience discomfort and suffering is because it makes us more like Jesus. There is absolutely nothing better than this! It brings us closer to God, and that is the greatest possible thing we can experience.
That is a fantastic deal. Being uncomfortable makes me more like Jesus. It’s so worth it. If that’s the case, I should crave it. I should desire anything that makes me more like Jesus.
Before proceeding, I believe it is important to express that there is a season for everything in life. There is a time for comfort, and a time for discomfort. A time for hurt, and a time for healing. A time for sunshine, and a time for rainfall.
That’s the thing, however: a plant needs both sun and rain in order to grow. And when I reflect upon my own life, it seems that the times of difficulty have produced the most growth and intimacy with God.
I can’t become faster if I’m not experiencing pain during my runs. My relationships with my friends won’t become stronger unless we completely flesh out our conflicts and reconcile them. My immune system won’t improve unless I become sick. We need discomfort in order to grow. It is critical. I believe Jesus’s early followers recognized this and not only welcomed it, but celebrated it and even desired it.
We should celebrate and desire anything that brings us into deeper intimacy with The Lord, especially discomfort.
How can I, instead of fighting toward comfort, run in the direction of discomfort in the way the early followers did? What if, in times of difficulty, instead of praying that things would get better, I ceased to desire comfort and instead prayed for things to become even more difficult? That’s a dangerous thought. Yet, I think that’s how Jesus often operates. Following him is meant to be dangerous. Let’s enjoy it.
“Courage, dear heart”