Embracing Discomfort

May 12, 2024

We live in a very comfortable time when we seem to hold onto comfort above anything else. Consequently, when the Bible speaks of times of discomfort in the form of affliction, suffering, discipline, pruning, self-denial, or tribulation most people want to turn a deaf ear and go back to the promises of God’s love, a happy ending, etc. Could we be missing out on God’s best for us in this life and the world to come if we fail to embrace discomfort? Let’s see.

James 1:2–4 (ESV) — 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Trials are a form of discomfort. They take on many different looks as it says in James 1, but a trial is a trial and it’s not a time for comfort and leisure. Nevertheless, this passage says that we should embrace this discomfort because the trying of our faith produces steadfastness, so we are to allow or cooperate with whatever the trial is producing in our lives so that we mature spiritually.

Let’s back up and be reminded of God’s plan for our lives. This may seem like “blanket coverage” and one size fits all, but it’s the general plan for all and individualized for each one of us.

Romans 8:28–31 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Lest we think it strange to fall into trials or other forms of discomfort, God reminds us here that He is at work in each of our lives so that we can be assured that He is working all things together (key word) for our good. What is good that comes out of various trials or difficulties? It’s God conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit takes every situation and applies God’s grace so that as we step back, we can say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Back to our trial discomfort in James 1. There we read those trials of various sorts produce steadfastness or patience in our lives. Whoa! So that is where we get it. It’s not what the old guy prayed, “Lord give me patience and give it to me right now.” Here’s another way to look at the discomfort of trials or suffering:

Romans 5:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

God’s love is so magnificently large it’s unfathomable for our minds. We get a real grasp on its enormousness when the comforting work of the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of our discomfort or suffering which produces endurance, character, and hope. And we would dare complain when things get uncomfortable! We don’t want to short-circuit the work that God is doing by giving into complaint, worry, or even quitting and running. No – because God cares too much about our conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ and the benefits found therein that He will work even through our rebellion to bring us back to the place of fruit bearing.

Discomfort then does not mean God doesn’t care. Just the opposite. It means He cares enough about our character that He sovereignly is working in the good as well as what we think is bad for His purpose.

God has invested a great deal in each one of His children in sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice for sins in bearing our sin on the cross after living a perfect and spotless life. As He brings new life to us that has been purchased by Christ, He causes us to be born again by the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but God has a glorious inheritance for all of His children that can never be taken away. Not only that, but as God promises to keep the inheritance for His children, He also promises to keep His children for the inheritance. Sounds pretty good, right? What can you give to God in return for all that He has done for you?

1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV) — 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

You offer to God the joy of being in discomfort through grievous trials that God deemed necessary to test the genuineness of your faith because your faith is worth more than gold. So when He allows your faith to be tested even by the discomfort of fire, your faith brings praise, glory, and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.

If it wasn’t necessary for your faith to be tested, it wouldn’t be. If it didn’t occur, your faith would be dull and you’d be lacking in praise, glory, and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Discomfort is not something from which we should hide or avoid, either in trial, suffering or self-denial.

Luke 9:23 (ESV) — 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Self-denial is not comfortable. Jesus said it’s part of being His disciple. The joy of His presence in the midst of discomfort is worth it all.

Psalm 84:10 (ESV) — 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Consider then the discomfort you may be experiencing either from without or within, from trials or from self-denial, and embrace it. That discomfort is working a great work in your conformity to the image of Jesus Christ and by His grace you will grow from this time of discomfort to the praise, glory, and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Bob Brubaker, Pastor