Last Sunday our pastor talked about the Holy Spirit as a Comforter. Matt used the illustration of our children having comfort objects – blankets, stuffed animals, etc. – they can’t get to sleep without. For whatever reason, these raggedy objects calm our children in times of stress. So should the Holy Spirit for believers.
As I mulled this object lesson over (no pun intended, but then it happened, and I could have erased it, but I think it’s kind of clever, so I didn’t, so I guess I am intending it?) it occurred to me I don’t utilize the Spirit in this way. I look to Him to direct me in truth, for advice, for assurance of salvation, but I’ve never considered Him a comforter, necessarily. I don’t go to Him to be soothed.
When I feel uneasy, insecure, or unsafe, I don’t typically turn to the Holy Spirit for comfort. I turn to friends. I turn to people I know will speak truth and encouragement to me. I turn to people I love and who I am confident love me, and my spirit is soothed by their presence. They are my comforters.
Uh-oh. As soon as I had that thought, I knew it was a problem.
In the most black and white way, I commit idolatry when I look for comfort from someone other than the Comforter. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to stabilize me in times of trouble, and I’ve been looking to people who are not God to do that for me instead. Whoops.
In a less intense way, I’ve been foolish to look to people to do imperfectly what the Holy Spirit wants to do perfectly for me. I have tremendous people in my life who love me very well and support me in all kinds of life-giving ways. But they are limited. There are times they aren’t available to talk. There are times they don’t quite understand my true heart. There are times they inadvertently fail to comfort me because they don’t always know what I need.
Not so with the Spirit. He is ALWAYS with me. Day or night. And He perfectly understands exactly what I need when I need it. And He gives me the very best comfort possible because He can’t not.
And I pass Him up regularly in exchange for the comfort of my human relationships.
Am I nuts? I feel like maybe I’ve been a little nuts in that decision… like maybe that hasn’t been the best choice, to neglect to seek comfort from the Comforter.
The good news is God is eager to show me grace. I confessed the sinfulness of my ignorant choices to pursue others instead of Him when I am in need of some comfort, and He gladly forgave me and invited me into deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit’s constant presence in my life. He’s begun to show me the blessing of being aware of Him as a constant, instant soothing object.
And I bet my friends are glad about that – takes some pressure off them.
In Acts 9:31, Luke tells us the Church “walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit” (ESV). May that be true of us as we grow in Him.