Comfortable or Flourishing

By Todd Hill

When Ethan was in preschool, he was told to draw a picture of his family. He did a surprisingly good job. It also was a profound representation of his observation, as a 3-year-old, of what life in our home was like. He showed Young-Mee busily working in the kitchen, and me . . . napping on the sofa. Ouch!

I have always been a fan of making myself comfortable. Whether it is planning our next vacation, enjoying a second helping of my favorite comfort food, or lashing out at my kids simply because their antics are requiring more of my energy than I prefer to give . . . I like to be comfortable.

I recently googled the word comfort, and this was how it was defined: Physical ease and freedom from pain. That sounds about right.

Over the years I have processed how often comfort drives the decisions I make for my family. How often am I tempted to make decisions simply based on the extent to which the outcome will make my family or me uncomfortable?

Young-Mee and I face a daily barrage of questions from our children: “May we do this on social media? Can we hang out with these friends? Do we have to attend that function? Why is Dad always napping on the couch?”

Each of these questions has a certain comfort value in our economy as parents and in our children’s economy. I am daily tempted to make my decisions simply based on what makes us comfortable.

James chapter 1 tells us to count it all joy when we meet up with things that make us feel really uncomfortable (my translation) because the end result is that we become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. In other words, without experiencing trials and uncomfortable things, our hearts tend to miss out on growth that leads to our flourishing!

Is it possible that because we have so bought into our western culture’s fundamental value of “comfort at all cost” that we have begun to make family decisions that actually keep me and my children from flourishing?

In the youth ministry we have discussed Smith Wigglesworth’s powerful quote: “Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.”

I think that most often, fights, tests, and trials are all very uncomfortable. Let’s not sacrifice our family’s experience of great faith, great testimonies, and great triumphs on the altar of our comfort! The beautiful story that God is writing in our family’s life will result in deep joy and ultimate flourishing only when we allow ourselves to walk a road that includes really hard and uncomfortable things.