“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 have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
Our family has two cats (I apologize to those of you who are NOT cat people…we also have a dog and a pond full of goldfish and a crested gecko if that helps). Princess Buttercup (aka Miss Butt) and Pepper are sisters that my two youngest sons adopted a few years ago. These girls are opposites in personality, but they love to be together. They play, snuggle, and groom each other. Even as one walks out of the house and the other is coming in, they stop and smell and give a little kiss to each other. It’s all very sweet. Miss Butt is not a wanderer, but she is now missing. It’s been over a week and chances are she’s gone for good. Pep’s has been lamenting the loss of her sister. She searches in the familiar spots for her snuggle partner, confused that her sister is nowhere to be found. I see her hesitate each time she comes in the house, waiting for that familiar comfort.
Pepper is a very unusual cat. She actually acts more like a happy puppy. She follows when I take the dog on walks, greets all the neighbors as they walk by our house, and rolls over on her back for a tummy scratch, but she’s pretty independent like most cats. She doesn’t mind if we love on her, but it’s not really her first choice. Her first choice is to sleep curled up with Miss Butt on someone’s bed or in a sunny window. But with her sister missing, Pep seeks out a member of the family anytime she’s in the house (even the snarky dog). She chooses to seek comfort with any warm body, because she doesn’t have the option to get comfort from her sister any longer. She stretched out on me this morning as I was reading my Bible (in the dog’s chair!), and I couldn’t bear to make her move when I was done…
As I sat in the chair with this warm kitty on my lap, sun streaming in the window, I thought about all the times I sought comfort in places that weren’t my “first choice” just to feel not so alone in the world. When I was young, it was being “friends” with people who weren’t always kind, didn’t share nicely, and didn’t care that their teasing hurt me deeply. As a teenager in a new town, it was people that offered drugs and alcohol as comfort for the woes of adolescence. As a young college woman, it was in the arms of young men that had even less idea than I did about what real comfort was and how to give it. The physical comfort, like drugs and alcohol, are only momentary and leave behind more regret and shame than anything else.
As a young, married adult who now had a relationship with Jesus, I sought comfort from my husband (not that this is bad…he just can’t always give me the comfort that I need). As a mother, with an empty tank that needed replenishing to refill my little ones’ tanks, I sought comfort in things that the world saw as acceptable: food, daytime television, Christian romance novels, gossip, and material objects like clothes and household goods.
Not that I’ve arrived, but It’s times like this morning that God brings to mind how far I’ve come. Life is so busy sometimes that we forget to reflect on all God has done in us. That first acceptance of a changed life is all well and good, except we often move forward and forget to stop and reflect on all we’ve become through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This morning it was one of those times, and it was good. Realizing just how good God is. Our lives are a process and through that process we can discover that God is always good and He always has our best in mind. He alone should be our first choice for comfort, because He alone is perfect and safe. No thing or activity, no substance, no person will ever give you comfort like Jesus does.
Some days, maybe most days, it’s a real challenge to believe that. Our entire society bombards us with so many different things to comfort us, to make us feel good and fulfilled. But God says, “I am”. I am everything you ever need or want. I won’t ever change. I won’t ever reject you. I won’t ever have something else more important than you. I want to be your first choice for comfort, no matter when or where or why you need comfort…I am.
I’m so thankful that Pepper chose my lap this morning to get her comfort, because in that quiet time I was able to reflect and praise God for all the comfort he has given me over the years. I see how He has used the troubles and pains of life to help me grow to a place where I know it is only through Him that I can truly be comforted.
Lord, please forgive us from turning to other people and things for comfort. You promise us comfort and we can trust that promise. Remind us that when we’re alone or troubled or hurting that You alone can show us the compassion and comfort that we so desperately want. Help us to take that comfort that you have shown to us and share it with others. Open our eyes to see the hurting people that need You and your comfort. In Jesus’ name, Amen.