Comfort is a natural human desire. We all seek comfort at times. Sometimes we find it in material things – a good book, a soft blanket, warm soup – but we find the deepest comfort in intimate relationships – knowing that we are loved, knowing someone cares.
The greatest comfort lies in love, and the greatest form of love is called charity (for definitions of the four loves, check this article). Charity is perfect love. Charity is to give oneself completely, even if it means death, for the sake of another person, no matter what that other person has given to you (or has taken from you).
The perfect example of perfect love is Jesus Christ. He sacrificed his life, in a very painful way, so that we would not be punished for our sins. We do bad things, yet Christ gives his life so that we don’t have to suffer the consequences of those bad things. That is charity.
The greatest level of comfort lies in the fact that we are loved no matter what. Christian or not, we spend much of our lives anxiously seeking the comfort of love.
But the world can be so mean. People yelling and fighting. Anger. People killing. Sometimes love, especially perfect love, seems impossible.
Yes, Christ’s love will allow us comfort in the end, but where is the comfort in this life? Where is the comfort among sickness and war? Where is the comfort we anxiously seek?
It comes when we are served. Of course, only saints come close to giving perfect love (charity) in this life, but there are smaller levels of service too. Any level of service is also a level of death.
To serve is to die. It is a small death. When someone serves, that person is letting a part of himself – his own will, his own desire – die for the good of someone or something else.
A simple example of this is a woman who serves at a soup kitchen. Every week she gives up an afternoon – when she could be doing whatever she wants – to give food and comfort to the hungry.
To be served is a beautiful and comforting thing. We can all agree that a person can serve in small ways, but is anybody really capable of giving the deepest level of comfort? Is anybody capable of serving in such a serious, comforting, way as to die for another person? Does anybody care that much? Does anybody love that much?
Can anybody ever find that deepest comfort that we so anxiously seek – to be protected, cared for, loved?
It is scary to think that we may never experience that comfort which we long for. It is scary to think we may never be protected, cared for. But there is a scarier thought than that. That is, the idea of an entire world where no one will protect anyone. That is a horrific thought.
This world could be that place. This place could be one where nobody can sacrifice himself for another.
The only way each of us can know for sure that this is not that terrifying place is to be a person who would die for another; to be a protector, to be a giver, to be a servant.
If we cannot give ourselves for the sake of another, then we cannot expect this world to be any better than that horrible place where nobody cares about anybody else. The only way to know that we are not in a world of self-centered, lonely people is to be a servant.
There is no way to know if we can give our lives for another person. We cannot know what we would do if such a situation arose. We cannot know if we could sacrifice our lives – suffering pain and loss – for another person. We can presume, but we cannot know unless it happens.
However, we can know that if we can’t even give a kind word, if we can’t even sacrifice an hour per day or our own comfort for another person, then we certainly could not die for another person.
So, if we want this world to be better than that horrible place where everybody is selfish, alone, and uncared for, where nobody is comforted, we must make it our mission to be a light in a dark place; to make sure it is not a dark place. If we want this world to be a place where the comfort of love exists, our mission must be to serve. Only by serving – giving, protecting, helping, comforting – can we know that this is a world where such a thing is possible. Only by serving can we know that this is not a horrible place where comfort is non-existent.