“But those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” -Psalm 34:10
I am a creature addicted to the comforts of life.
There are few things I crave more than a warm drink in my hands and a good book in my lap, for they seem to always cast a merry glow on the room or the night. I love the taste of pleasant words and the sensation of a good laugh, for they make my heart cling to the good in the world. I long for natural light, for cleanliness, for a seat by the fire and a blanket; to indulge in order and luxury. I spend hours lost in the pages of Veranda or Laura Ashley, allowing perceptions of floral and beauty to calm the deep longings of my soul.
I am addicted to feeling safe. And I choose my friends, my clothes, my hobbies, and even my choice of beverage according to what is pleasant, pretty, and comforting, so that I can maintain my mind’s illusion that I am immune to bodily harm.
Were it up to me, I’d spend the rest of my life with my nose buried in these comforts, oblivious to pain, to fear, to anything that makes me squirm. I’d exchange depth for pleasantry, conflict for complacency, and adventure for security.
I’ve tried, wholeheartedly, to attain this kind of life; this level of comfort and safety. I live in a safe, cute apartment in a safe, cute, Southern town with a very cute husband who makes me feel secure. But all this safety and all this cute has made me fragile, and recently, my comfort- made soft exterior was no match for the sharp claws of fear.
In the past year, the tremors of death’s earthquake have shaken me, and the sicknesses of those close to me have chilled my heart with dread. For a while now, I’ve been keeping fear at bay through near -compulsive indulgence in my earthly comforts, but Laura Ashley’s fall wallpaper collection is not a strong enough gate to shut it out its potent gas.
Fear seems to have the most power over us when it controls our perception of “the worst thing”. When the worst thing is bankruptcy, fear instills in us an absurd obsession with money and bills. When the worst thing is sickness, fear plays on every pain, every twitch, every abnormality in our body to convince us we have a chronic incurable disease. When the worst thing is death, fear pollutes our minds with scenarios of tragedy until we are afraid to even leave our house.
While I was making an Advent Calendar for Christmas this year, I came across this verse from Isaiah:
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” -Isaiah 32:18
This verse struck a deep chord. This promise is the very essence of my heart’s desire: a peaceful, secure home, an undisturbed place of rest. Furthermore, this peace is given to me, not created by me.
The Lord makes this promise to Israel in a time of suffering and turbulence. It is amid the foretelling of what, for many would be “the worst thing”- exile and oppression, right before the promise of “the best thing”- Christ and the new kingdom.
Christ has come, and he’s given us “the best thing”- salvation, hope, reconciliation. Through his death and resurrection, he conquered every “worst thing”. I read a book last year as a Fellow called Creation Regained by Albert Wolters . It pointed out that with Christ’s victory over the cross, there is essentially nothing left in all of creation to which he does not cry, “This, too belongs to me!” Because of the cross, we bear only a shadow of death, of sickness, of pain, because Christ bore and conquered it all. Fear, therefore, has no power or strength to stand in the light of what Christ has done, and all suffering can do to us in this life is draw us closer to him. He is our secure dwelling place, our undisturbed place of rest, and the one comfort that can never be stripped from us.
This truth and promise has changed my perception of “the worst thing”. Maybe the worst thing isn’t to suffer, or to experience loss, or to be afraid. Maybe the worst thing is to live a life in which you are never made aware of the depth of our fall, the extent to which we are loved, and the hope strong enough look fear straight in the eye with no emotion but pity for the joy he’ll never know.
I’ll still carry these comforts; they are an enjoyment and a part of me, but these comforts are not my lifeboats. I don’t have to hide behind these things, afraid of what fear will do to me. I cling to the promise of an undisturbed place of rest; of comfort and security deeper than all the teacups in the world.