The Beauty of Discomfort
by liz akers
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I realized that I have an expectation of comfort.
We live in a world where instant gratification is the norm. If I am hungry, I can open my fridge or hit the drive-though. If I get sick, I can go to Med-Express and walk out a short time later with medication. If I want to satisfy my curiosity, I have only to Google my question.
These are not necessarily bad things. Yet, this environment has fostered in me an unconscious belief that I am entitled to be perpetually satiated. What disservice has this attitude done to my spiritual walk?
Need and desire are like containers that beg to be filled. If I am unwilling to be uncomfortable, unwilling to wait on the Lord to fill the empty places, I will seek to fill them myself with whatever is easily accessible. This reveals the heart of the issue:
Am I waiting on God to do something for me, or am I waiting on God, for God?
We all have legitimate needs and good, God-given desires. It is not wrong to believe and expect that God will answer our prayers. But if we desire these things above the presence of the Lord, then they have become an idol, because they have become the focus of our hearts.
For instance, if you need healing, it is easy to begin to seek health instead of the Healer. Or, if you have lost your job, you may concentrate on provision rather than the Provider. Whatever the need, Jesus does not simply have the answer, He is the answer!
Our needs create pressure. If we do not understand the purpose of that pressure, our focus can subtly shift from Jesus to trying to alleviate our discomfort. In this way, comfort can become an idol.
Imagine you are in labor, but you have no idea what is happening. You would be disoriented and terrified. And while understanding the purpose of labor doesn’t make it less painful, it does bring focus and intention. You know that the pain is a part of the process of bringing forth life.
It is the same spiritually. Our unmet needs and desires are a part of the process through which God brings forth His life in us. It may seem at times that there is no end in sight, but God is faithful. He will bring to pass that which He promised, so don’t get discouraged during the delay.
It is through this process of waiting that we grow and mature in our faith. The result of this is deeper intimacy with the Lord. If He is our desire, then we will be willing to wait for Him. Although there are things that we could reach for to satisfy ourselves while we are waiting, we will choose discomfort. We will be willing to pay a price. This is the difference between lust and love.
Lust says, “I don’t care how I get what I want, or who gives it to me, as long as I get it now.” But love says, “I will wait, because what I desire is not my own gratification, my desire is Jesus at any cost.”
Unholy desire can spring from legitimate need if our focus is not on Jesus Christ.
For example, when I am out running errands, I often get hungry. Hunger is a need. I may have plenty of healthy food at home, but the hungrier I am, the more tempting it becomes to buy unhealthy fast food. The temptation to get fast food is a desire. This desire arose because I am hungry, and I am unwilling to wait for something better. I stop caring about what is good for my body, about the bigger picture of my health, and it becomes only about satisfying my appetite.
As the Body of Christ, we have to be aware that as our need increases in urgency, the easier it is for the enemy to distract us by limiting our vision only to ourselves, and only to the moment. We must stay focused on Jesus.
As I was working on this one day, my middle son, Noah, asked if he could have some chocolate milk. When I told him that I would get him some in a minute, he said, “Ok, I’ll get a juice box while I wait.”
This sums up how I’ve been treating God. A couple months ago, the Lord said, “Take your position and wait upon Me.”
Honestly, my attitude wasn’t great. All I heard was the word “wait” and I sort of switched to autopilot. Also, I didn’t understand what He meant. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder how to wait.
To most of us, waiting means distraction. The purpose of distraction is to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. If I have an appointment, then I am reading a magazine or texting my husband, anything to make waiting bearable.
It’s one thing to do this in a doctor’s office, and quite another to do this as a follower of Christ.
I realized that in many ways, I am distracting myself with the world while I wait on the Lord. I am checking out and going numb because it’s easier. I am getting myself a juice box while I wait on the promise of chocolate milk.
So, I began to pray about the right way to wait. This is what the Lord showed me:
• To wait, we must first be in position.
• Your position is your individual purpose.
• We get into position through obedience.
Waiting is remaining focused and purposeful in the Spirit, knowing God will act, while our flesh ceases to strive for results. Isaiah 64:4 says,
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”
It is to stay in the role that God has placed us in, allowing Him to operate through us to perform our individual purposes.
In all the areas of our lives that we are in disobedience, we are out of position.
What has God placed on your heart that you have yet to do? Maybe you’re like me, and you wonder why any of this matters? I want to share with you what God said to me, because it is what He is saying to all of us:
“I am longing to reveal a glorious, more intimate side of Myself than you have yet known, but, many are not in position to receive what I have to give. I am not waiting for the passage of time, but for the preparation of My people.”
If God has called you to do something and you are hesitating, now is the time to obey. It’s time for us to take responsibility for the part we have to play. Get in your position!
If you are already in your position, and you are growing weary, disoriented, unfocused, or discouraged, I want to encourage you to not give up. Don’t believe the lie that what God is calling you to do doesn’t matter. You are important!
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 29-31
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Psalm 27:14
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