December 3, 2016

Tidings of comfort and joy

Earlier in the evening, I sat here craving a big warm mug of my Gramma's sweet rice.  I only make it when it's cold much like today has been.  Sweet rice is the perfect creamy mixture of love and comfort.  It sits in your belly and it has this way of reaching all the way out to your fingers and toes making you feel like someone has hugged you from the inside.

I've always found it interesting how food can do that to a person - literally alter how they are feeling about themselves or their day.  A sip of wine, a bite of fresh bread, that perfect crispy apple, ice cold milk, gooey brownies hot out of the oven - isn't there something satisfying to the soul about certain foods?

I've fasted from sweets before.  A few years back, I observed Lent for the first time and gave up sweets for that season.  It was an extremely long 40 days and 40 nights, but after the first two weeks, I noticed my cravings for it subsided.  And as I fasted from sweets, I anticipated Easter Sunday with a new fervor and not just because my fast would come to an end that day.  My time with Jesus was sweet that season.  I still remember what we walked through together and I'm grateful I accepted His invitation there.

Sugar seems to be my nemesis.  Especially if it's found in the form of chocolate.  I've learned over the years that eating sugar begets more eating of the sugar.  Our bodies become dependent on it and call for more even though it's the very last thing we need to put inside of it!  Fasting from sweets this time of year feels absolutely absurd.  It's around me everywhere and the temptations are already astronomical and it's only the third day of the month.  

December usually comes with certain sugary traditions:  Eggnog.  Gramma's sweet rice.  Hot chocolate.  Pumpkin bread. Gingerbread men.  Sugar cookies.  Almond bark pretzels. 

Being someone that has struggled with eating disorders and food addictions for most of my life, I know intimately what it means to go to food for comfort.  The comfort though often would turn violent as I would binge or overeat to the point of actually feeling so full I was in physical pain.  Tonight, my children are in bed, my husband is working and I'm alone in the house with my twinkle lights and snuggly blankets and all I can think about is wanting something comforting to eat.

Maybe I'm just in need of comfort.

I wonder why it doesn't feel natural to go to God for comfort.  The angels came to the shepherds declaring that they had tidings of comfort and joy, or at least that's what we sing at Christmastime isn't it?  The birth of Jesus, this promised Messiah - He had finally arrived and this news was meant to bring comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

That's a lot of comfort wrapped into two verses.

Tonight, I'm curious about comfort.  What parts of me are needing His comfort?  How do sweetness and comfort go together?  I think of our nation, our world - so much hurting, so much sadness and fear and tragedy.  How can I play a role in bringing comfort to someone else?

I'm curious what it would be like to experience Jesus as my comforter.  I wonder if it might feel a little like my Gramma's sweet rice and being hugged from the inside.

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