Do all dogs do this? All the ones I’ve ever had did. They would approach their favorite landing spot…pillow…dog bed…my bed (sigh)…and they would begin the process. They would circle and tramp and circle and tramp and circle and tramp until they finally plopped and curled into a compact and comfortable ball of fur. They would then look up at you with “that look” (furtive, raised eyebrows)–the look that said, “I am comfortably ensconced now…DO.NOT.BOTHER.ME. I will let you know when I need feeding or walking or other service from you.”
The Doberman would exhale with a canine harrumph. The Dalmatian would tuck her nose tightly under her foreleg. The Dane would sprawl…legs cast about in random compass headings…occupying acreage that was the envy of small countries (This is true; I have the ambassadorial complaints on file).
It was clear to anyone who observed: the pooches had arrived at max comfort and would not move until some biological necessity or some rude human required such movement.
And I have to confess that part of me grew wistful as I observed this dogified pursuit of comfort…landing “just so” on a perfectly prepared perch…not a care in the world…the essence of serenity. Makes me want to run out and get one of those deluxe doggie beds. You know the kind…it’s advertised in the “mall in the sky” magazine that you browse when you fly. Those doggone beds have comfort-dialed mattresses, separate dining rooms, and spare rollout doggie cots for when the in-laws visit.
Supreme comfort…the pinnacle of pup aspirations. And, I am afraid, often the pinnacle of people’s aspirations as well. There have been so many conversations with Christians who have punctuated the dialogue with a note about (or insistence upon) comfort. “I’m just not comfortable with that,” or, “I’m looking for a place where I can be comfortable.”
My usual mental response: “Well…the mattress store is just down the street, why don’t you try there?” My preferred verbal response: “Are you out of your EVER.LOVING.MIND?!?” No, not really…
My actual verbal response is usually something like this: “I don’t think Christ followers are called to comfort; I think we’re called to radical obedience and I think that radical obedience often implies a decided lack of comfort.” Then, upon completion of the mandatory and reflexive eye roll, my conversation partner will usually “ease on down the road”–often muttering something about me needing to get a grip on reality.
To be sure, the Bible mandates the giving and receiving of comfort on the part of God’s people (see Isaiah 40:1 or listen to Handel’s rendering of same).
But the Bible’s comfort is not a pursuit of the pain-free, cushioned, doggie-bed life–nor is it a ministerial call to provide such for God’s people. The Bible’s comfort is all about experiencing the fullness of the God’s presence in the middle of the hard stuff of life.
Paul was most eloquent in this regard in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 1. He says that we who have struggled are called to reach out and comfort those who have had a life struggle that resembles ours…by dispensing the comfort we ourselves received from the very hand of God. This is not a “making my life easy” proposition; this is a full immersion in the fabric of life and ministry that Jesus called “abundant” but which is not usually marked by luxury or an absence of challenging personal circumstances. Sadly, advocacy for this is near quixotic in our day and time.
My experience (for what it’s worth): the most growth, the most fulfilling times of life and ministry, the deepest relationships forged, were all in the midst (don’t you love it when I speak KJV?) of the most decidedly “uncomfortable” times.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort”
(2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
© All rights reserved. Scripture quotations from the NIV.