Comfort is not the same as peace. Comfort is fleeting and relies on the external, while peace is eternal and relational. Let me explain.
Used as an action, to comfort means to give strength and hope, to ease grief or troubles. It can also describe a strengthening aid, a feeling of relief, encouragement or well-being. Comfort is a satisfying or enjoyable experience.
Comfort relies on outward circumstances to satisfy. It is something we do for others, is done for us or is brought about by a temporary experience.
Peace is brought about by a relationship in Christ. In John 16:33 (ESV) Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” No matter what situations surround us, our hearts can be at peace knowing that Jesus is in control.
How having peace leads us to comfort
When we are at peace, we are better equipped to serve others. As Christians, we are not, and should not be, in the business of satisfying our own desires. Christians are called to comfort others.
The peace we are given is a tool that steadies us in uncomfortable and difficult times. A peace that only God can provide can be found in the heart of a parent burying a child, in the midst of an ugly divorce, by the bedside of a frightening medical diagnosis, in the generosity of the homeless, in the forgiveness of the marginalized and in the repentance of the oppressors.
Peace happens regardless of the surroundings. Life brings pain, but God is faithful to meet us where we are and walk with us through it all. In return, God asks that we do the same for others.
This is where peace leads us to comfort. It does not lead us to our own external comfort. The cancer may not be cured, we continue to mourn our loved ones, we continue to mess up and re-evaluate our role as the marginalized or the oppressor. Peace asks us to get uncomfortable and to address the reality of the situation in front of us. It equips us to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to meet people in their suffering.
Just by showing up, by sitting with them in their pain, by feeding them when they are hungry, by providing shelter and clothing when they are cold, by changing the systems we contribute to that hold others back, by living out Jesus’ call to “LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS”... Just by showing up and doing, the peace that we are granted turns into actionable comfort for others.
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8, ESV)
Examine where you are at today. Are you focused on building up your own comfort? Or are you ready to tap into the peace of Christ and go to the uncomfortable places to change the city of Tampa, Florida, for God? It’s time to act church. It’s time to act outside of our own walls.