I love how Paul starts Philippians 2 with a rhetorical conditional that “if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy”
I don’t know how the answer could be anything but Yes!
The story of Christ offers us the greatest encouragement in life – that no matter how messed up I am, he offers me new life (Romans 5:8). He’s also given us the Spirit of adoption – which is why we’re able to call out to God “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8: 15) And with both Christ and the Spirit comes affection and sympathy.
But recently, my loudest “Yes!” is to “any comfort from love”.
Quarantine has taught me that food and sleep can only comfort me so much before I become a bloated loaf. It may look good on Instagram, but behind the camera the negative marginal benefit of each bite makes the snapshot of my memory one of regretful gluttony.
A single day of trying to find comfort by cooking/eating. – Tuesday, May 5
But the love is the only thing that always satisfies and never tires.
While living in New York, the anxiety from work deadlines and news headlines worked to consume me. Locked up by myself in an apartment didn’t help much either. The existence of Zoom merely let me compartmentalize my smiles into 1-hour meeting blocks.
An empty JFK – taken while dropping off one of my last UTNY peers to leave NYC – April 9, 2020
I didn’t realize how lonely I was until I returned home to Austin. When I was quarantining by myself for 14 days in my apartment near campus, my mom brought me baozis from home.
We’ve heard about five love languages, but for me there would be a sixth – the love language of food. Biting into my mom’s baos, I cried from the comfort of my mom’s love.
If the comfort from family is so great, I can only imagine how much greater the comfort from God is. His love surpasses all understanding (Ephesians 3:19), but just getting a glimpse of His love through those around me has already brought me so much comfort. I want to experience more of this love and He offers a way for me to do so – the promise that as we draw near to Him, He will also draw near to us (James 4:8).
- Pray for those who are feeling lonely right now to find comfort in God’s love. Pray that God works through people like family and friends to show them that they are worth so much more than their circumstances.
- Pray for families that are quarantined together. Pray that close quarters brings family closer together instead of further apart.