Character Over Comfort
The past two years have taught people the value of comfort and the distressing feeling of discomfort. The discomfort barometer ranged from the lack of toilet paper to fear of death and everything in between. Is the Christian perspective prepared to embrace the idea of discomfort as God building character in us?
We see many of God’s own in the throws of uncomfortable character building. Noah, most likely, received unending criticism of his gigantic construction monstrosity. He worked for years and years on an Ark and a promise. He was 600 years old when the flood waters began. (Genesis 7:6). That’s plenty of time for character building. Joseph was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Yet, “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor” (Genesis 39: 21) The Lord was with him? Can you escape character building if the Lord is with you? Was Joseph faced with discomfort? I’m reasonably sure of it, based on what a prison of the day would be like. Would Joseph have become the leader he became if he had not faced the trials of being wrongly convicted and jailed? Yet, the Lord was with him through it all.
What did Christians learn during the past 2 years of discomfort? What did we spend our time on? Many of us did not have a daily commute to work. Did we eat our way through the shut down? Did we sleep more and watch television? According to an American Time Use survey, after sleeping, Americans spent most of their time watching television.[i] Was the Lord with us during those television hours?
Church going was halted during the Pandemic, with many churches going to online services. Church leaders rallied to bring worship to at-home congregations. A poll taken in April of 2020 reported “one-quarter of the U.S. adults overall, 24% say their faith had become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic”.[ii] Does that sound like a low percentage? Should not all Christians be in a state of growing stronger daily in good times and in hardship? Proverbs 24:10 predicts “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (ESV)
How do we examine personal character building? What test can we take to know if we have grown? James 1:2-4 speaks of trials as being a test that produces steadfastness. Our reward is to be “lacking in nothing.”[iii] That is the complete opposite of how we would consider Pandemic life wherein we felt “lacking in much”. Were we steadfast in our faith? Did we take the Lord with us? Did we develop character that will take us to great leadership as the world sheds the cocoon of the past two years and begins to spread its wings? Those are the questions we can ask of ourselves and prayerfully consider our desire for growth in character over comfort.
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[i] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2021-07-22/americans-spent-more-time-watching-television-during-covid-19-than-working [ii] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/30/few-americans-say-their-house-of-worship-is-open-but-a-quarter-say-their-religious-faith-has-grown-amid-pandemic/ [iii] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%201%3A2-4&version=ESV