You Were Made For Greatness, Not Comfort

Our culture loves comfort. It’s not a secret. We love drive-thrus, and air conditioning, and convenience. But we don’t just love comfort, we’re obsessed with it to the point that we decided blankets aren’t quite comfortable enough and we had to invent the Snuggie.

And this love affair with comfort carries over into our spiritual life. We don’t want to talk about the Cross. It makes us uncomfortable. We want to feel good about ourselves. We want therapeutic Christianity. But that’s not what Christ is offering us.

I hate being sick. I am the world’s biggest whiner even when all I have is a cold. So, you can imagine how fun I am to live with when I’m pregnant and experiencing months of morning sickness—can’t-keep-water-down and can’t-get out-of-bed morning sickness. I hate being uncomfortable. I hate struggling through those weeks.

I was chatting about NFP and pregnancy with a fellow morning sickness sufferer, Dwija, recently. I asked her how her struggles with morning sickness affected how she viewed NFP and spacing pregnancy. To be honest, I was expecting her to talk about how hard pregnancy sickness is and looking forward to commiserating together (I love a good opportunity to complain about being uncomfortable) but that’s not what I got. Dwija said something completely different. She shared some wisdom from Pope Benedict XVI: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

And that quote hit me right between the eyes. And if we’re blessed with a future pregnancy, I want those words framed above my toilet so that every time I’m sick I can remember the truth of it and try to hold it in my heart. That God would be using me to knit together a new little soul. Another little heart for Him to dwell in and be his throne.

He offers us a chance to participate in his work, and the work He desires to do in us is not comfortable, but it is great. 

I think about Pope Benedict’s quote almost every day. When I’m tired from all the night feedings–you were not made for comfort. When I’m caring for sick little ones–you were not made for comfort. When the daily tasks of motherhood leave me mentally and physically exhausted–you were not made for comfort.

I think about the great and uncomfortable work I have been given to do– nourishing the bodies and minds of my children, participating as a co-creator of life, learning to love my family, learning to love my Lord. I think about the discomfort of being honest with myself, learning to examine my heart and really see my sin instead of lying to myself about it. It’s all so terribly uncomfortable, because it requires me to sacrifice my own desires. It’s painful. But this is why God made me. So that I could decrease and Christ in me could increase. So that I could discover who I really am.

God has created each of us for greatness in a special way—not success, not comfort, but greatness. And what He sees as greatness will likely be painful and uncomfortable. But it isn’t false or superficial. It isn’t what the world offers us.

And Christ models it for us: his Love for us is great, which is why He has suffered so. In his Incarnation, he took on all the discomfort of humanity so that we could know him intimately and walk beside Him. In his Passion, He suffered unbearable agony to pay our debts. In the Blessed Sacrament, He reveals himself again and again so that He can nourish us with his grace. Sorrow and Love.

Christ warns us that we will suffer. I try to avoid discomfort at all costs, so you can only imagine how much real suffering frightens me. But He also says “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I don’t pretend to really understand that, but sometimes I wonder if we leave our obsession with comfort behind and say “let it be to me according to your will” if we will find his yoke to be light because He carries it for us.

image: Shutterstock

Haley Stewart

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Haley Stewart is a writer, speaker, blogger, Catholic convert, mother of three, and wife to Daniel of the big beard and the green thumb. She's a homeschooling, bacon-eating, coffee-drinking southern girl with a flair for liturgical feasts and a penchant for bright red lipstick Haley muses about faith, motherhood, and books at her blog Carrots for Michaelmas and is the author of Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year. She also podcasts at Fountains of Carrots.

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  • anonymous

    i was sick, the diagnosis was a death sentence — i was in Adoration, and saw myself lying prone in a pool of blood before the Blessed Sacrament. “Your will be done, Lord, please just give me the strength to endure” were the words in my mind. In that surrender is authentic comfort. I asked Him how the Saints did it. How did they do it? Offer it up, i have no other words to say it. a return visit to the doctors–there was ‘nothing there’. HE left me here. i guess after all this time, the why is because HE has HIS purpose. I don’t know what it is, but i do know that is all i need to know. HE is helping me to trust HIM. i am so grateful.

    it’s become like a tug-o-war these days. I am always reminding myself that HE said, I’ll be with you always.

  • JMC

    “…we will find His yoke to be light because He carries it for us.” Bingo. Just a few years ago, I learned to see suffering as an opportunity. If I offer it for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, how much does it shorten their time there? How many get to leave Purgatory for Heaven with each sacrifice? And then there’s the Fatima offering: “O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee, in reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the conversion of poor sinners.” You can even add “especially for…” if there’s someone in particular you want to pray for. And in doing these two things, I discovered something: Each time I make the offering, the suffering gets just a little easier to bear. It doesn’t diminish right away, but it does get easier.
    I once read somewhere that the pleasure of the marital act is a sort of reward for being willing to bear the burden of raising children. I always thought that was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard. Your article today makes it even more so. Thank you.

  • Robert

    I appreciate the intention here. Just one thing, though: it may not always be helpful to confuse the idea that “we are not made for comfort” with something like “we are created to suffer and to desire to suffer.” They are not the same thing: living one’s life for material comfort, making material comfort rather than the salvation of our souls–that runs against God’s will for our salvation. However, not wanting to be sick, not wanting to be disabled, not wanting to feel pain, and recognizing that suffering and sickness are NOT part of God’s original “plan” for his Creation–none of these things are bad or the equivalent of living for material comfort.

    So it’s ok to hate being sick, to recognize the difficulty and pain of child rearing, and to work within reason to lessen those pains–none of those things are wrong or against God’s ultimate will for us.

  • Robert

    quick correction: I meant to say, “living one’s life for material comfort, making material comfort rather than the salvation of our souls the main focus of our lives–that runs against God’s will for our salvation….”

  • MikeK

    That quote from Pope Benedict XVI is one of the BEST quotes. It deeply affected me! After reading this article, I printed the quote and now have it pinned up in my cubicle at work. Thanks Haley!!! Great article.

  • BillinJax

    This is abundantly clear when we understand that we are a fallen people. Of course God intended originally to have us all in Paradise. We screwed that up, remember, and continued to rebel against Him. The message Haley is giving us as the remnant suffering sinners which we are is that we must live our lives as transformed and redeemed followers of Christ who accept our current condition but through Christ’s sacrifice and the grace of the Holy Spirit have the power and strength to overcome the fear of that condition enabling us to willfully offer up pain and suffering in the name of our redemption which is the act of joyfully giving it to Jesus in a prayerful life of living ours in serving the needs of his people.

  • BillinJax

    Who said we were created to suffer? The point was we were made
    to be lowly creatures in human form who could exemplify our creator God’s love
    through our imitation of his characteristics among us by obedience to his Will.
    Disobedience had a price to pay. Human suffering is a part of that. Great
    saints who dedicated their lives to prayer and obedience endured much pain but always in union with their Incarnate Lord’s very real mortal suffering. Our Holy
    Mother Mary and Joseph bore the brunt of their humanity to bring about our
    redemption not to end the sentence our disobedience placed upon it but in spite
    of it. These are examples of the greatness we lowly humans can achieve with our
    lives when we chose to proclaim the image and likeness of our Creator.

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