The conversation in my Men’s Life Group continued, but I was disconnected. I wasn’t daydreaming; I was pondering. Moments before, Kevin (not his real name) shared how, in his darkest days of alcohol and drug addiction, he found “comfort in discomfort.” He continued by saying, “Whatever [substance] I could get in my body to numb the pain.” Using discomfort to numb the pain. That habit did not originate with Kevin. It is as old as the hills. It is also as current as today. The numbers, while not all-telling, indicate a problem.
And those numbers include only addictions to drugs and alcohol. Addiction comes in near endless varieties: sex, power, distraction, social media, cellphone games, work, recreation, hoarding. We are comfort seekers.
The freed Hebrew slaves longed to return to the discomfort of enslavement rather than face the unknowns of the wilderness. All the Hebrew spies, except Caleb and Joshua, voted to stay in those same unknowns in order to avoid a new adventure in a promised land. Solomon’s addiction to sex overrode his wisdom and killed his kingdom. King Xerxes’ love of drink led him to pronounce a death sentence on the Jews. The discomforts of life continue to provide comfort.
John withholds his name but shares his story.
What a strange question for Jesus to ask! But was it? The biblical text informs us that the man “had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.” The man was limited in mobility for nearly four decades. Why would Jesus ask him if he wanted to be healed? Perhaps the man found comfort in discomfort. As an invalid, he received food from good-hearted passersby and perhaps family members. Healing would mean taking up his mat and walking into a life of responsibility – finding a job, showing up to work, creating new habits, etc.
Physical disability is not required in choosing to stay. In this Genesis Three World, far too often people choose to continue in a life of discomfort, ignoring Jesus’ invitation to take His burden that is light rather than the burdens of this world. Flowing from the gospel are freedom, security, rescue, redemption, restoration, cleansing, forgiveness, and salvation. Yet some (more often than not) choose to continue to live in their discomfort.
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