Posted By Luci on September 5, 2010
November 2008 was not the best month for me. As the days grew shorter, I grew increasingly dejected. Toward the end of the month, I was diagnosed with a condition that would make conceiving a child incredibly difficult. I faced the prospect of at least two major surgeries to fix what was wrong. In spite of the fact that I had a seemingly great job at a prominent think tank, a wonderful fiancé, and many caring friends, I often felt isolated and alone.
Around this time, I was seeing a doctor who I didn’t like all that much. At one appointment, though, he posed a question that would prove to be a catalyst for changing my short-term, me-centered perspective.
He asked, “What gives you comfort?”
I remember feeling quite taken aback. Comfort?? Why in the world would that possibly matter to my health?? Isn’t fixing the problem more important?! “Um,” I mumbled, “cooking … and … um … spending time with my cats…?”
And, really, who could resist a face like this one?
The other answers I gave to my doctor were no better: “I guess that … um … I get comfort from pedicures … massages … um … buying new books … buying makeup … going to the beach … and, um, buying new shoes.” Not a pretty picture. All of my responses reflected an incredibly superficial view of the world, as well as distinctly skewed priorities.
Moreover, as is obvious from my answers, everything centered around me! Here I was, preparing to be married to a wonderful man of integrity and vision, living just thirty minutes away from my supportive, loving, wise parents, blessed with a fabulous brother and with generous, kind, and true friends — and all I could think of was what made me temporarily happy.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
What I didn’t realize at the time was that God was using this period of trials to grip my heart and turn it back to Him. In November 2008, I was absolutely, positively broken. I felt like I was living a schizophrenic life. On the one hand, I had a successful career in a field that I liked (constitutional law), I enjoyed marvelous opportunities to meet renowned lawyers, judges, and scholars, and I was on track to enter a top law school.
On the other hand, I desperately wanted some sort of better, more enduring goal for my life. I knew something was fundamentally out of whack. I read blogs written by intelligent Christian women of all ages who joyfully served the Lord, their families, and their communities. Although I couldn’t put my finger on what made their values so attractive, I knew that these dear ladies had something I wanted. I had a vague idea that my goals were totally antithetical to my desire to be a more feminine, gracious woman … but I had absolutely no clue how to change course.
When my doctor asked me to name sources of comfort, he unintentionally forced me to take a hard look at my lifestyle. It was incredibly jarring to realize that I was, essentially, running away from God as fast as I could. I had chosen temporary “comforts” instead of lasting peace. I had bought into the lie that things – material goods — could be “comforting.” In Matthew 5:6, Jesus says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” I had thirsted for everything except righteousness and wisdom from God.
I began to read Scripture again. At first, I simply skimmed passages here and there, seeking an instant answer for my problems. The man who is now my husband gently encouraged me to examine more closely what God deemed good. He suggested that I pray more than once in a blue moon, and we began to pray together frequently. I found myself humming the old hymns I’d learned while singing in my father’s choir at the church where I grew up. Slowly but surely, and through God’s grace alone, my heart began to change and I began to depend on God alone to structure my priorities and my life.
As God drew me back to Himself, I learned that true comfort isn’t something I can obtain on my own. Only comfort from the Lord is lasting and meaningful. Indeed, in John 14:16, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a “Comforter” who “will abide with ye forever” (emphasis added.) God promises to comfort us in all of our troubles (Psalm 23:4; Psalm 71:21; Psalm 119:52; Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 57:18; 2 Corinthians 1:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:16.) No problem is too small to take to the Lord in prayer; likewise, no problem is ever too large for Him. The Psalmist declares, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19) What an enormous blessing! Regardless of our circumstances, we may take comfort and delight in knowing that God’s plan for us is true and far superior to anything we could have chosen for ourselves.
Certainly, getting a pedicure provides some measure of temporary relaxation … at least, until it’s over and we have to figure out how to walk outside in the flimsy salon “sandals” that inevitably break within minutes! And I love playing “fetch” with our three delightful rescue cats, who never fail to jump on my lap whenever I’m reading, sewing, or typing. While we may enjoy such activities, it is only through God’s grace that we may experience true comfort and the peace of Christ, “which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7.) I’m definitely still growing in faith and knowledge of the Lord, but I occasionally wonder about the extent to which my life would be different now if I’d not had that discussion with my doctor. I firmly believe that the Lord used that simple question to make me understand just how empty and unfulfilling my life was without Him.
Lamentations 3:24 tells us, “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” May we learn to wait for God in prayer and faithfulness, seeking to serve Him and others through all our actions. May we thirst after righteousness. And may we trust Him fully for comfort in all of our anxieties, throughout all of our days.