And while we’re at it…
There’s something to be said about numbness. Numbness, the real enemy the church misidentified as comfort, is not a victimless mistake.
In fact, one of the more blatant results seems to’ve been spelled out in scripture already. Look at this from Psalm 94:19—
“When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
Now insert a society whose Christian communities have demonized comfort to the point of absurdity. What do we do when doubts fill our mind when comfort is deemed an enemy?
Observe the mechanisms of society you frequent from day to day. Are hope and cheer the spirit of our age? If you were to describe the average conversation you encounter while out and about, considering the political and socioeconomic climates we’re looking at, what words would you use?
Succumbing to numbness is not a victimless mistake. Like all the great lies harming humanity, numbness ultimately fails to deliver. Ironically enough, numbness will make you feel a pain for which you’re utterly unprepared.
What does that pain feel like? See the verse again: “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
The pain of numbness is that of a doubt-ridden and anxious existence.
I haven’t met many millennials who haven’t faced some sort of depression, be it a mild bout or clinical, at some point in their young lives. The inherent difficulty we’re venturing into now is that of how offended you may already feel that I’ve suggested our strange worship of doubt as a virtue has something to do with causing our depressed tendencies. Even if you’re pissed, stay with me.
Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of debate regarding causes and medication for depression and anxiety, we must, at the very least, agree this pandemic needs to be addressed and corrected.
We don’t see many instances in scripture where Jesus confronts someone who is depressed. One could make a case that anyone who didn’t know Jesus had to have been depressed in some way.
But a closer examination of one of the prominent diseases of Jesus’ time on earth points to our need for the Holy Spirit’s role of Comforter.
Leprosy, a disease we thankfully don’t see as often as Jesus did, falls at least metaphorically in line with the numbness, doubt, anxiety and depression we sadly do see.
I won’t remind you of the instances where Jesus encountered leprosy because you likely already know the stories. But, just to be clear, I’ll ask plainly:
Based on his interactions in the gospel, what sort of stance do you think Jesus has on leprosy—an infectious and inevitably life-ending disease often introduced alongside a numbness that causes one to no longer feel pain?
Do you see any scenario in which Jesus would be for leprosy? Do you ever see a Jesus who is pleased by leprosy?
Pseudo-intellectuals and trolls aside, the answer is obvious. “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”
The point I’m making is that you can’t observe Jesus’ interaction with leprosy and not conclude that numbness, doubt, and anxiety-ridden existences are not his intended purpose for anybody.
With this in mind, return once again to Psalm 94:19— “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
Outlaw comfort by replacing it’s definition with that of numbness and you’ve cut yourself off from the cure for doubt and anxiety.
“Get out of your comfort zone” may sound edifying, but it might also result in a generation of people upon whom globe-sized-expectations are set without providing any salve for the inevitable friction they’ll encounter; I’m sad to say it already has.
This is why it’s imperative we allow the Holy Spirit to reclaim comfort in our lives. Without it, the God-sized dreams we’re called to see through will taunt us until we put down roots in the valleys of the shadow of death we were meant to walk through.
There’s an abundant life on the other side of our depression, doubt, and anxiety-ridden seasons. But, by definition, we can’t enter it unless we allow God to differentiate between numbness and comfort.
To this end, I pray you’ll see comfort differently as you recall Jesus’ attitude toward leprosy and numbness—
He’s not asking you to get out of your comfort zone;
He’s trying to introduce you to it.