Comfort? Really?

Comfort stinks.

I know, we all love our La-Z-Boy recliners and our 182-inch flat screens and our newfangled technological devices that are simultaneously cell phones, cameras, video cameras, and microwaves, all in one little hand held device.  I don’t want to give up my air conditioning or my car or electricity (contrary to popular belief, just because we gave up tv doesn’t mean we are on the path to becoming Amish – not yet anyway).

But with each new thing that brings us comfort, another little tentacle wraps its way into us.

This comfort thing reminds me of Spiderman.  Remember how Spidey gave in to his feelings of rage and anger and hate and put on the black Spidey suit, only to realize that it had taken him over?  Remember how, eventually, the only way he could get out of it was to rip it off his skin?

Comfort can do this to us.  Before we know it, we’re being controlled by it.

So why the depressing rant against nice stuff? you ask.  Who climbed up your tree and shook all the apples out, you may wonder?

I’m not against nice stuff, in and of itself. I’m not against spending money on cool gadgets or nice cars or big houses.  But what I’ve started to realize is that having all of this stuff, and trying to figure out how to pay for it, often keeps people from pursuing their identity.  I’ve known people who wanted to go off and do some adventurous, exciting things but couldn’t because they were stuck in this huge house they could barely afford, or couldn’t imagine life without those two nice cars (the payments of which added up to nearly $1000 per month).  I’ve known people who were in credit card debt out the whazoo (no matter how I spell whazoo, spell check won’t accept it), and the plastic kept them tied up in a life they wanted out of.

All because of too much stuff that made them comfortable.

Are you making huge life decisions based on how comfortable you expect to be?  Are you avoiding your calling because you think it might be a little uncomfortable?  Have you decided not to start that business or change your vocation or up your involvement in something that you’re passionate about because you want to remain comfortable?

Did God promise us comfort?

He promised to meet our daily needs.

He promised to never leave us or forsake us.

But most of the great stories show people leading extremely uncomfortable lives.  Adventurous, yes.  Fulfilling, yes.  Were they provided for?  Yes.

Comfortable? Not often.

Abraham had lots of stuff, but for decades he was in the uncomfortable position of waiting for a child to arrive.  This is a very painful, uncomfortable place to be.  When he tried to alleviate that comfort on his own, Ishmael was born, and all kinds of chaos broke loose.

Moses was called OUT OF the comfortable life of an Egyptian prince to lead God’s people into the wilderness.  But he never even got to see the Promised Land.  Did you catch that?  One of the few men who God EVER spoke to face to face, as a man speaks to a friend, one of the greatest servants of God to ever walk the planet, and he spent the majority of his life in the wilderness.

Ouch.  Doesn’t really line up with our capitalistic, name-it-and-claim-it, pursuit of happiness religion we’ve created, does it?

David was called to be king but spent years before that wandering the country side, fighting for his life.  Then, when he was king, he never seemed to stop fighting battles.  When he finally pursued comfort, and stayed home when most kings were fighting, he ended up having an affair and nearly destroying himself and his kingdom.

When we begin to pursue comfort, a new found sense of selfishness will always lead us astray.

Are you spending a lot of time and money trying to make your life more comfortable?  Or are you actively seeking to put yourself in uncomfortable situations that force you to mature and grow?

Someone who wants to run a marathon enters into a training regiment that always goes just beyond where they are currently comfortable.  If, during every run, they stopped when they got uncomfortable, would they be successful?  Of course not.

Life is no different.  Break out of the current comfort zone that is defining your existence.

Am I some kind of ascetic who thinks you should deny yourself every pleasure, that you shouldn’t own anything, that you should inflict pain on yourself to become a better person?  That you should live in van down by the river?


I’m just asking you – what is motivating your decisions?  Are you be led through life by the master of comfort?  Are you increasingly enamored with leisure?

“A life dedicated to leisure is in the end a life dedicated to death, the greatest leisure of all.” -Anne Lamott

17 Replies to “Comfort? Really?”

  1. OUCH!!! You hit me where it hurt!!! Something I needed to hear.. Inspiring!!! My favorite post thus far. Thanks Shawn

  2. Will you people get off my back already!

    First it was Shawn Groves talking about the homeless in Nashville (

    Then, it was Nicol Wick, blogging about stopping the secret of sex trafficking (

    Next, I hear a podcast about the incredible sacrifices made by missionaries Joe & Millie Dawson (

    Now here’s Shawn going on about me being controlled by my need for comfort!

    All I have to say is “Thanks. I needed to hear every bit of it!”

  3. good post. should we be worried that christians today are trying to make it as comfortable as possible to be a christian?

    that seems to be our model for evangelism: make christianity look as comfortable, and as much like non-christians’ current lives, as is possible.

    coffee shops, concerts, and comfort sell.

    1. hmmm. good question james.

      if you’re talking about church, i’m not sure…i think for most people who don’t follow christ, going to church is already an intensely uncomfortable, challenging thing, so i’m not sure there’s anything wrong with trying to ease that transition by making church a more hospitable place.

      1. In the words of a former pastor of mine, the role of the church is to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable!”

        I’m not sure if coffee shops work in that scenario or not, but in my experience most churches struggle to find the balance between the two. I think the church I attend (Seacoast Church) does pretty well with it, but in the end it still comes down to each individual to choose whether to engage, or just warm a chair.

        1. kit, i like that turn of words. i’m going to hold onto that.

          is that seacoast church in greenville, south carolina? if so, this is really odd because i’d never heard of it until yesterday, when some friends told me they’re attending there. and then today you brought it up…?

      2. yeah, i don’t see any harm with smoothing a transition as you say. i think the harm comes in when we make christianity out to be all comfort, and then the suffering comes — and they didn’t sign up for that. i think the suffering ought to come a little earlier in the process. [but i’m not talking solely about attending a sunday morning service here.]

        i agree that walking into a church building and a time of worship can be really uncomfortable for non-christians. and i have no problems with making it hospitable. but i think the better model for evangelism is to do such on their turf. don’t make them come to us to meet Jesus.

        anyway, just thoughts…

  4. God did NOT promise to meet our daily needs. People very easily die of starvation and thirst, of burns, and of disease, and it happens every day, all over the globe.

    Instead, God makes daily needs irrelevant. If you’ve been told, as was Daniel in the Old Testament, that there would be life after death, daily needs become irrelevant because death is not a tragedy.

    1. You make a very good point, but in God’s word it does say multiple times that he will supply all of our needs.

      “God shall supply all my needs, according to his riches in glory”

      “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor 9:8

      Yet Paul talks many times of how he was in need, that is, when his daily needs of food or clothing or freedom or whatever weren’t met.

      So what do we do with that, because you are right – there are people starving every day, people who get kicked out of their homes and have the clothes stolen from off their backs. Perhaps our definition of need (usually we are thinking of physical provision) has nothing to do with it? Could it be that God is talking about supplying all that our soul, our essence, needs, and not what our physical body needs?

      I don’t know, but you make a great point.

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