In 2016, comfort is just an arm’s length away. We can reach for the computer, or a snack, or the remote, and easily slip away from our problems. While these creature comforts are readily available for many people around the world, they don’t provide the true, deep, and meaningful comfort offered by Jesus Christ.
In high school a psychologist told me I had depression. Since I thought I was the smartest 15 year old I had ever met, I disagreed with him. Sure, I had social anxieties, trouble making friends, bouts of crippling emotional pain, and the heavy burden of Same-Sex Attraction all while navigating high school, but I was handling things. I didn’t need the help that was being offered to me. I just didn’t.
So being the obstinate teenager I was, I looked for other avenues of comfort to ease my mind and my trials. I remember I would try to lose myself in books. The magical world of a boy wizard was medication to my ailing heart. I would sit in bed for hours reading and re-reading those books, escaping my discomfort for a few hours at a time, but always returning to unsolved problems and pain.
For a while I tried using other people for support, or to be honest, as life rafts, while I was drowning. Taking another person and throwing them under your own waves of trials and insecurities is the best way to ruin any relationship. Obviously dumping all my problems on my fellow teenagers was another example of a poor coping method.
Fortunately for me, Twitter was invented. I had a place to deposit all the bad in my life. It was a place I could go to make secret wishes and self-deprecating remarks. The dark void that is the internet welcomed my deposits, but was nowhere to be seen when I wanted to make a withdrawal. Sadly, Twitter doesn’t talk back most of the time and is therefore a terrible form of support.
Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long for Netflix to come on the scene. Instead of having to deal with my problems I could sit down in front of my TV or computer screen, get my 32 oz soda, large pizza, and binge on food and film. Best part? No feeling required.
Needless to say, I have tried quite a few avenues to find relief from the various trials that have cropped up in my life. As can be seen with my examples, no show, or social media, or book was an adequate source of comfort. None of them lasted, and none of them loved me back.
A while back I was at work and had been meeting with members of my team. The day was turning out to be a hard one. I had a difficult discussion with a supervisor, people online were saying mean things about me, I was having people drop some various committees I chair, and now my team members were making things worse. I took a break and went to a supply closet. I sat down on a crate and just cried. The overwhelming nature of my day and week crashed over me. My personal failures were being dragged up by my memory, and everything just felt lost.
I remember distinctly the first feeling I had after I had gotten some of the tears out was a craving for my favorite soda. My mouth watered as I thought to myself, “I will feel much better after I get a soda.” Soda was the comfort I sought. After all the heartache I was feeling that day and week, over all the various aspects of my life, the first comfort I looked to was soda.
It was in that moment I had a realization: Creature comforts cannot replace Christ.
For much of my life, I have looked to a variety of sources for comfort, always forgetting to look to Him. Numbers 21 gives us the story of the fiery serpents. Those bit and afflicted were told to look to the bronze serpent (Christ) and live. Alma 37 offers similar advice in verse 46:
“…if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.”
Alma 7:12 gives us the key to this problem we face: “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
Dr. Pepper didn’t die for me. Netflix doesn’t care how my day went. If I empty my heart out to Twitter, it won’t send the spirit to comfort me.
Food, books, and technology can’t replace the embrace of our loving Savior.
In our search for comfort, many of us have forgotten Christ, thinking we can handle things alone. Christ literally died for you. He died for me. He died for every single person that has ever been born. Not only did He die, but He suffered first. He felt every pain, and affliction, and heartache ever experienced. Our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical pains were his too. Every single drop of blood that spilt from his open pores was done for the singular purpose of knowing you. He suffered, bled, and died, just to know you better. Just so He could understand how you feel, and comfort you in the most perfect way. Sure, high fructose corn syrup and Grey’s Anatomy can offer some semblance of comfort, but it is a shadow by comparison.
As we make our way through the various experiences life puts in front of us, I hope we will change the way we look for comfort. I hope that when we look for succor, we will turn to Him.