Parent Devotion: The Discomfort of Being Too Comfortable
Several years ago I had an unforgettable conversation with an interesting man sitting next to me at a ministry training workshop.
He was the pastor of a thriving church in a poor, war-torn village in Uganda, and was about to return home after a six-month trek across the United States to meet and learn from other “successful” pastors in his denomination.
He shared how blessed he’d been to meet with some of the most well-known ministry leaders, and his eyes had been opened to many good things.
Assuming he was returning to his home country overflowing with amazing stories of ministry in America, I asked “What’s been the most valuable thing you’ve learned here?”
He paused, and his eyes filled with tears.
“I’ve learned that sharing Jesus with people who have nothing is MUCH easier than sharing Jesus with people who have everything.”
He went on to explain how the prosperity and comfort of Americans insulated and distracted us from really having to trust God, and he recognized how vibrant the faith of his Ugandan congregation was, despite enduring war, persecution, and poverty.
“ALL we have is Jesus,” he said, “He is our EVERYTHING, and he's all we need. Being in America has begun to suffocate my soul!”
By this point he was weeping openly, grieving for us, and longing for home.
I haven’t been able to shake that conversation ever since, and it still makes me squirm.
It made me realize the unsettling truth that I pursue worldly comfort and God as an entwined package.
A quest for wealth has never been my goal, but I’ve always pursued financial security and craved the feeling of safety that comes from knowing I have enough money to pay my bills—PLUS tithe without worry and have a savings account for emergencies.
I like feeling comfortable. I like feeling thankful for what I have. I like feeling good about being generous (especially when I have enough money to give to others). I like the feeling of pride that comes from my husband and I working hard and providing for our family.
And I REALLY like the feeling of being able to throw an impulse item (or two, or three) into my cart when I’m at Target.
Somehow I've rationalized my quest for financial comfort as a commendable quality, since I'm certainly not idolizing excessive wealth or prosperity.
But I've started to wonder if I’ve idolized the comfort of money, and the happiness that comes from it, without even realizing it.
I'm no stranger to experiencing extreme discomfort with my finances. I’ve been a poor college student working 40 hours a week to pay my bills. I’ve been a young, single mother who went to bed panicked about the likelihood of the daycare check bouncing. I know the feeling of dread when opening the mailbox and finding a collection letter.
And now, with the reality of having two kids in college next fall, the familiar sick worry has been lurking again as I can’t imagine how we’ll be able to afford all of the upcoming college expenses.
But I do trust that God will provide. He always has. And I know he always will.
Perhaps it’s a necessary reminder to seek comfort in his provision, instead of the balance in my bank account.
And perhaps I need to view financial discomfort as an invitation to invest in the priority of putting my comfort in Jesus.
Digging Deeper: Reading, Reflection, and Challenge
Read and reflect on Matthew 13:22
Journal prompt: What financial pressures are weighing on your mind? Make a list of the things in your life that you believe would be solved if you had money to cover it.
Challenge: Close your eyes and take a few minutes to breathe deeply and reflect on how the list makes you feel. Instead of reciting a list of your needs to God in prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede and give you peace about trusting God’s provision and timing. Allow yourself to face the list and surrender these financial burdens, remembering your needs are known by God.
Read and reflect on 1 Samuel 2:7
Journal prompt: Part 1: Describe a time when you faced a seemingly insurmountable financial issue, and survived it. Part 2: Describe a time when you felt blessed with financial abundance. Answer the following questions for both situations: In what ways did I see God’s provision in these situations? How did this impact my faith?
Read and reflect on 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Journal prompt: Think about instances over the last few months when you’ve been aware of someone else’s need but hesitated to reach out. List ways you might be able to help, whether by giving your time, talent, or treasure.
Challenge: Spend time reflecting on what you’ve written and ask for God’s guidance on a specific way he’d like you to show generosity. Follow through by taking action!
Kami is the mom of 5 kids (ranging from high school to post-college), and is the author of the best-selling book Release My Grip.