Monday, September 19, 2011

It's So Uncomfortable!

Two recent incidents are on my mind today. Both have served to impress an uncomfortable truth into my heart. The truth: we have developed the idea that part of our American heritage is the elimination of anything uncomfortable. If it's too hot, turn on the air conditioning; if it's too cold, turn up the heater. We live in a climate-controlled, acoustically stimulating, smell-good environment.

Let me tell you first about the incidents, then I'll get to the lesson I think God is trying to teach me. The first occurred almost two weeks ago. It was a typical early September Thursday. I was about to leave our office to work on a project in the quietness and high-speed internet of my home. Suddenly, the lights flickered and the power went out. The office was dark and quiet without the hum of the A/C in the background. Early September is HOT in Yuma and it was the hottest time of the day. We waited, expecting it to kick back on in a few minutes. We waited some more. I went home still waiting. Updates sent to my smartphone told me that this major outage started very near my house but had taken in everything all the way to San Diego and up the coast into Orange County. It might not be restored until the next day!

At home, using battery-powered lights, I watched a battery-powered thermometer record the gradual rise of the temperature in my living room. Fortunately, my house was cool when the power went off and I am blessed to live in a place that is very well insulated. I read, drank water and pondered the uncomfortable air as minutes turned to hours. I began to think about how tiny this problem was in the big scheme of things. My friends in the Dominican Republic suffer through blackouts like these almost every day. I have Haitian friends who almost never have tasted many of the comforts I enjoy every day without gratitude.

I admit that I am normally prone to nervous fretting during times like that evening, but for some reason I was able to give this one to God. It was near bedtime and I said to Cathy, "I'm tired; I think I will just go to bed and get back up when the power comes back on. Then I can reset everything." Right after that, a light flickered and our comfortable world was back.

The second incident was this past weekend. Cathy was away on a women's retreat with ladies from church. She called Saturday morning to give me an update. "How are you?" I asked.

"It's funny," she replied, "Everyone is asking me that this morning." Then she explained why. The dormitory she and some friends were assigned was infested with bedbugs. Cathy got the worst of them, ended up with hives from neck to feet and had a bad reaction to the antihistamine she took.

As we talked, we both pondered our insulation from so many nuisances that the rest of the world takes for granted. We admitted how easy it was to develop the attitude that we live above ever being uncomfortable. We also thanked God that it happened to her and not someone else. My wife is pretty mature in her walk with Christ. She endured this and saw it as what it was: interference that didn't have to tarnish the joy of God working the hearts of many women. By the way, they changed rooms, their clothing and bedding were washed by some wonderful ladies in the group, and they all returned home safely with anti-bedbug measures in place.

What about the lesson I'm learning? You have probably guessed it. If not, here it is: I have no right to live in comfort all the time! Paul, the Apostle who endured beatings, imprisonments and shipwrecks, put it thus way: Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11 (NASB)

Honestly, I haven't learned this lesson yet and I want to learn it. I don't look forward to the methods God may use to teach me, but I sure want to learn it!

How about you?

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