I think about comfort a lot. I think most of us do? I like all the cozy, comfy things you can imagine, from activities to settings to the "feel" of our home. I love the idea of hygge and fika and creating an atmosphere of comfort and I love the idea of making our home a haven.
But I'm not naive enough to think that "comfort" is something to take for granted, or that it is essential to a good life. There will always be periodical interruptions to our comfort (frequently for our good, even if it doesn't feel like that). I started reading 2 Corinthians today, which talks about comfort and the real, true, honest comfort we get from God because we go through trials.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5, ESV
This made me pause: that when we encounter trials and suffering, He gives us comfort, which better equips us to give comfort to others and so on. The trials produce comfort in us and His comfort is fruitful. His comfort to us doesn't stop with us.
And I found this all wildly applicable because my last shift at work was hard. I saw brokenness and hurt and felt ineffective at my job. Even as a relatively big "feeler" as in "I feel a lot of emotions," I usually don't feel that way at work. There is a separation of emotion and the best nursing care I can offer. But the day that began as a joyful one on the drive to work, was interrupted with a few tears at work and ended with my heart feeling irritable, hurt, and frustrated.
On my way home, I stopped at Trader Joe's, and the cashier said, "Are you an RN?" When I replied, "Yes," he gave me a high-five and said, "You're awesome. Thank you for how you serve people."
I wasn't feeling particularly "servant-hearted" at that moment, but it was an encouragement to me. And then the sky—the sky, you guys. We've had several days with afternoon thunderstorms recently, many of which were on days that I worked. The sunsets on these days are generally phenomenal, and I have this vantage from the back of our apartment building, facing west, where I get a front row seat to His marvelous display for the day.
And I've casually noticed a pattern: the hardest, stormiest days end with the most beautiful sunsets.
As I drove home, I thought about my job as a nurse. As any nurse or caregiver realizes, our role is to heal and calm and offer comfort and try to patch what's broken. We do try, and are often effective in the wonderful collaborative that is modern medicine and the awesome team we have of doctors, therapists, clinical assistants, food service, dietitians, pharmacists, etc. But on the days when people don't get better and when those objectives feel frustrating, God is the great Healer, the great Redeemer of all days, whether the day was good or bad. He's the maker of sunsets and the comforter of my heart so that by His grace, I can continue to comfort others in the way that I've been comforted.
I love this excerpt from the notes in my ESV Study Bible:
One of God's purposes in the sufferings of Christians is that they would experience direct, personal comfort from God, and then from that be able to minister God's comfort to others.
I'm sitting here at a coffee shop, my hair in a half-ponytail, a sheep progress keep on my sweater, butter coffee beside me, His promises written in my handwriting again and again as reminders. My prayer for today, written out:
Joy for the morning and Grace in the evening. Help me extend Your comfort to someone else.
And may He open our eyes to see His sunset for us in each day. It's there, friends.
P.S. — That tiny yarn ball is the little yarn ball that could. Every day, I think, this is the day that I'll finish it, but I still haven't yet!
P.P.S. — both sunset photos were taken after difficult shifts and stormy days.