While visiting some friends recently, I had the opportunity to visit the church of one of my favorite pastors. The pastor’s popularity has grown over the last several years in large part because he is practical, relatable, and bold with the gospel. His sermons are also readily accessible online, which has served to extend the reach of his ministry all over the country. Until a few weeks ago, it was only through this medium that I had ever witnessed the pastor deliver a sermon. So, needless to say, I was thrilled at the chance to see him in person and visit his church.

Before we arrived at the church, the building and the size of the congregation had been described to me, so I knew what to expect. We sat in the back of the church but due to the way the area was designed I still felt pretty close to the stage. That particular Sunday the pastor gave a sermon on manhood that was both refreshing and challenging for me to hear. During the sermon, however, I kept catching myself doing something very strange.

Instead of watching the pastor give his message on the stage, my eyes kept drifting to the monitor in the sound booth we were sitting behind. This made me feel a little silly. I had driven hundreds of miles to see the pastor in person, yet I kept catching myself watching him on a screen— something I could have done from the comfort of my living room! In fact, it was something I had done many times from the comfort of my living room.

Presented with the opportunity for something better, I was inclined to want what was comfortable, normal, and routine.

As humans, we often long for what is easy and comfortable, even if it means overlooking something that is truly better. I had been so excited to come and hear this man preach in person, yet I gave up the better version of him to view him on a monitor.

A while back, I made an employment decision to move my family to a place we knew it would be hard to find community. That move turned out to be REALLY hard on us and I still have no idea if it was a wise choice. I might never know. That season was full of tears, frustration, and very little comfort. I know for myself, it was to this point the hardest season of my life. In His grace, God released us into a new opportunity now where we are able to walk in a greater fullness of our calling to make disciples.

However, I tell my experience over that year and a half not for sympathy or to complain (I complained enough daily during that time I’m sure), but to tell you something I learned. I’ve noticed how God can use valleys in life to break idols we cling to, and for me, the lesson was that I idolize comfort and good circumstances.

I don’t believe it was wrong to want these things or even to be broken when things just plain stink. God doesn’t want you to act like things are okay when they aren’t. However, I learned that so much of my hope was in what wasn’t promised to me in Scripture. This was sinful. In Scripture, we are never promised worldly comfort or a “normal” life with few problems. I found time and time again during the valley that when my hope was for my circumstances to be comfortable I was going to be let down. Comfort isn’t promised to me. And why is it not promised to me? Because instead of promising us comfortable, normal lives, Scripture teaches that God promises us something better.

Young Adults
Three promises of God that have helped me when struggling with discontentment in this season are:
1. The Promise of His control over circumstances.
The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,
(Isaiah 14:24 ESV)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power…
(Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

2. The Promise of His presence in circumstances.
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
(Isaiah 43:1-4 ESV)

3. The Promise of His goodness for you through the circumstances.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Instead of promising us comfortable, normal lives, Scripture teaches that God promises us something better.

Dear Lord, may we be thankful in the promises that you make to us in your Word. May we long for you, rather than for you to turn our circumstances around to better suit us. Lord, please increase our faith. In the midst of hard seasons please help us to be authentic with you, and to cling to you and your promises. I thank you for your Son who, in his death and resurrection, gave us any reason to hope at all. It is in his powerful name we pray. Amen.