Practicing Comfort & Affliction

Contributor: Greg Richardson
Photographer: Madison Cline
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Some people are convinced spiritual life is supposed to be reassuring. They believe spiritual life sustains them in times of trouble or doubt. When they face challenges, they rely on spiritual life to see them through.

I understand spiritual life as more than helping us feel better in difficult times.

One explanation is that spiritual life comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Spiritual life does strengthen us to overcome obstacles. It also transforms us, which can be painful at times.

Comforting the Afflicted

There are times when life seems beyond our reach, more than we can bear. Great losses, intense conflicts, significant lessons may appear to be challenges we cannot meet. Spiritual life can be a framework to support us or a breath of fresh air to inspire us.

When we feel afflicted we can forget spiritual life is all around us and within us. It can become less and less spiritually healthy for us to persist, to keep pushing.

Stillness can help us remember spiritual life. Our perspective is restored and strengthened. We are refreshed and we see things in new ways.

In the midst of our afflictions, we are comforted.

Afflicting the Comfortable

There are also times when we feel we are in control, we have life in a box. We know what we are doing.

Spiritual life is not about certainty. We are drawn to question our own conclusions.

As we reflect on what we think we know, we begin to see more clearly. Again and again, spiritual life opens us to understand and practice newly discovered truths.

In the midst of our comfort, we are afflicted and transformed.

How is spiritual life comforting, and afflicting, us this week?

When do we feel most comforted spiritually? When do we feel most afflicted spiritually?