Comfort seems to be the word of the season. From Thanksgiving through the new year we bathe in comfort–comfort food, comfort carols, comfort Scripture. And yet this year, I don’t seem to be finding much comfort in what is supposed to be comforting. Now, don’t get me wrong. In the last month, in the game of couch vs. gym, the score is couch–29, gym–1. I seem to have surpassed the sugar-hangover stage and entered sugar as a fifth food group. But this reality has only made me more comfortable in the moment. My pants seem to be shrinking. My energy waning. This is not my definition of comfort.
Nor is the comfort passage in Isaiah. Come on. Comfort, Comfort Oh my people….Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. I don’t know about any of you, but I have not found the moments of being flattened, smoothed, or leveled to be particularly comfortable moments in life. In fact, they have been some of the most UNcomfortable moments. And I think Isaiah knew that too. He’s talking to a people who were made to leave their homes, lived in exile, had been, for all intents and purposes, flattened. A people who sought to understand how and where God was in the midst of this struggle. I don’t think he’s trying to pedal simple sugar comforts.
Isaiah’s kind of comfort is a different kind than you get when eating too many sugar cookies or indulging in an extra glass of eggnog. It’s a kind of comfort that helps you recognize, when you can’t get out of it, get into it. Because the only way through is through. And the courage to get into it, flattens the road ahead. Accepting these moments tend to be initially de-stabelizing, de-centering, and dis-comforting.
May 2012 be year of honoring the deep comfort that comes through an encounter with the uncomfortable.