Have you ever prayed something like, “God, I need Your comfort. Please take away this pain.”? I have. A lot of people tell me I’ve experienced more than my fair share of deaths, disasters, and crazy life events. Most of which have produced pain. Yet somehow, I’ve begun to find comfort in God, despite pain.
How do you respond when you experience great pain, failure, or struggle? If you’re like me, you pray to God for His comfort now and His supernatural relief from discomfort later. “God, will You heal this?” “God, will You protect us as we travel?” In this mode of thinking, God’s comfort represents a barrier between pain and us. Comfort is to sleeping on a feather bed as discomfort is to sleeping on the rocky ground. Getting in a car accident vs. not getting in one. But, should we seek a comfy life when Jesus himself had no place to lay His head? But wait, shouldn’t a good God desire to comfort His people? All good questions.
The history of the word “comfort” is pretty astounding. Watch what happens. The word is made from two Latin word parts, com-, an intensifying prefix which means “together with,” and fortis, which means “strong or strength.” Later, the Latin word confortare comes to mean, “to strengthen much.” Eventually, an Old French word, conforter, would add words like “solace” and “help” to the definition. In the 14th century, another French word, conforten, is defined as, “to cheer up, console.” Finally, by the 17th century, the English version of the word implies the sense of physical ease that we understand today. In about a millennium, “comfort” went from meaning, “together-strength,” to meaning “pain-barrier.”
With this new (old) understanding of comfort as “together-strength,” look at how God has comforted our world. The prophet Isaiah foretold of a Messiah who would enter our world to be wounded for our transgressions and striped for our healing. If the very nature of our faith is to follow Jesus and lead people to follow Him, then let’s take a look at His response to pain.
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23 NIV
In 1 Peter 2:21-25, we see a Savior who accepted pain humbly despite having done nothing to earn it. Jesus does not avoid pain; He comes into our world and makes our pain His pain. He didn’t say we’d never experience pain, but He did say He’d never leave us.
So, how do we find comfort in God despite pain?
- Realize God never promised to insulate you from pain, but He did promise to enter your pain with you. He is your together-strength. Your ever-present comfort.
- Follow Jesus’ example. Feel pain without blame. He did nothing to deserve the pain He received, yet He felt no need to find someone to blame or retaliate against. In fact, He took the pain because it was our pain, and He loves us.
- Ask God for information. Jesus knew that He was taking on pain to bring us freedom. When you experience pain, it’s okay to ask, “God is there anything I can learn or accomplish as a result of this pain?”
- If you’re still wondering how a good God could allow pain to exist, start the Finding Comfort in Pain Bible Plan.
So, when I’m faced with pain, do I just pray for a way out or start seeking the sometimes painful—yet victorious—way of Jesus? I’m trying to do more following after Jesus, and it seems to be working.
If you’re hurting now, we’d love to pray with you.