Imagine my surprise to discover that the word “uncomfortable” is not to be found in scripture. Actually, shocked is a better description. There is so much about being a Christian and having faith that makes us and others uncomfortable. Much of my spiritual life has been marked by this feeling of discomfort, the notion that something wasn’t right and I was well aware of that. I might not have known what exactly or had any notion of how to fix it, but I was keenly aware that something was not right.
This past week, I was at the annual gathering of United Methodists in Roanoke, VA. I spent a lot of time conversing with others, listening, and watching. There were times when I felt like something was off. Sometimes this was external, but many times I felt uncomfortable internally. I feel uncomfortable when I find myself called to enact God’s will, like there’s something that I have to say or do and I will not be able to rest until I do. I also feel uncomfortable when I feel justly convicted by the Spirit for what I have not said or done. It usually traces itself back to an internal struggle. Who am I? What am I called to be?
When I think of being called to be in the name of God, I think of this passage:
“I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7 NRS).
As lovely a sentiment as this is, it is also a jarring call to be something so much more than we are, than we ever could be on our own. Me? You want me to be “a light to the nations?” We could gently push this away from ourselves and say that God is speaking about the people of Israel, but Christians are spiritual descendants of Israel, and I have to hear this call. From out of the living text does it come. Strong as the day it was uttered by the Prophet Isaiah. I am not worthy. I am not able. I cannot do it. Only by the Grace of God, only with the Lord’s blessing and will may I be worthy, may I be capable, and may I accomplish it. My faith says yes while my head and my gut is unsure. There is discord, and therefore, discomfort within me.
To be uncomfortable is not bad. It is not indicative of unfaithfulness. In fact, it is the opposite. It means that something within you is attuned to God and hears the Holy Spirit calling, cajoling you to see, hear, and act in new and blessed ways. Faithful disciples of Christ will wrestle with uncomfortableness all their lives as they move into deeper relationship and fruitful spirituality. Our role is never fulfilled, our job never done. God doesn’t let us retire from being Christians. We will be until the end of our days. The next time you feel uncomfortable, stop and reflect upon why that is. Do you see injustice? Have you heard evil with your own ears? Have you been convicted by the Holy Spirit? Do you encounter sin in the actions of those around you? Whatever the cause, even if it is we who are, we must do what Isaiah calls us to do: be a light. Shed light, truth, and God’s Grace upon that which threatens to be over run with sin, evil, defilement. It’s a call to take your uncomfortable feelings and turn them into inner strength to make a change. Change around you, within you, within others. You can, and you must, because God has taken you by the hand and kept you for this very purpose.
God of Redemption,
You use your Holy Spirit to reveal the world in new ways.
We find ourselves in a struggle;
Our insides twist and turn.
What would you have us do?
Who would you have us be?
Assist us in our endeavor to take what makes us uncomfortable,
And use it to make God-centered change.
Let us be empowered by our discomfort.
So that we and others might be remade in your image.
Let your will be done,
In us, through us, and by us.