My last couple of weeks have been filled with annoying days, interrupted days, and days that seemed to have no end. My mood took a turn for the worse—and when days feel like they’ve descended into the bottomless pits, I often lunge for things to soothe my cranky attitude. Things like Mexican take-out, a spot on the couch, and a Netflix night.
I escape. I coax my pup to snuggle beside me, and I let the plot lines of hilarious shows draw my mind away from disappointing realities. The “you’ve had a hard day” justification works to my advantage as I indulge in my idea of quiet perfection. Comfort food, comfort pup, comfort show.
In my gut, I know I walk up the stairs to bed having spent hours mentally dodging the stuff I could’ve faced. From simple tasks to long-term goals, I avoided it all. Stuff got tough, and my desire for comfort trumped the needs before me.
That’s the thing about escaping. When we return to what made us run in the first place, it’s usually still there. Waiting, unresolved.
So my day was bad, and I allow it to end on a low note—because though my show made me laugh, it didn’t fill holes in my heart, bind up aching wounds, or breathe hope into my soul. Its comfort lasted for just a bit, but when I finally decided to stop hitting the “Continue Watching” button, I saw my frustrations again. Because our hearts aren’t healed from the aches of a bad day by witty dialogue or brilliant story lines, pup snuggles, social media scrolling, dark chocolate, big cups of coffee, long naps, take-out boxes, a good cry, or our very best playlist. Escapism fails us every time.
But it’s the living Word that offers hope, perspective, and comfort (John 1:1–3; Ps. 119:105). The Words in those pages may not change my circumstances, but they would certainly feel like a long-awaited rain shower to a quenched soul (Ps. 41:1–2).
I write those words with intellectual knowledge—I know God has given me His Word so that I can know Him, connect with Him, pray to Him, grow in Him, and become like Him (2 Tim. 3:16–17). Yet my experiences tell a different tale—my yearning for comfort takes me to a physically comfortable place with emotionally comforting entertainment, altogether ignoring the place of genuine spiritual comfort, the bottomless well of truth (Ps. 119:50, 71–72, 111).
I tell you this because I want you to hear that I struggle to run to the Word, too. We know it’s the answer when we’re reading a blog post or discussing devotions in our small groups. But when the days kick us and hurt us and disappoint us, it’s easiest to run the fastest to the most comforting thing we know.
It’s easier to escape into Netflix than it is to read our Bibles. Saying adios to your overwhelming situation while opening the bag of chips feels the most satisfying at the time. It’s easier to build a cave of our favorite things than it is to address the pain that stings and singes our souls (Ps. 119:107).
I’ll read my Bible tomorrow; I just need to relax and forget it all right now. I get that train of thought. I’ve been there too many times, and if you have, too, know that you’re not even close to being the only one who wants to escape.
It isn’t the easy kind, though, because it means we look at the junk hanging out inside our hearts, and we have to see its ugliness. We have to see the selfishness, the pride, the anger, or the envy causing the war within us. Or the pride, anger, and selfishness of someone else who hurt us—the things we’re called to forgive. The Word sheds light on those things.
Our God is in the business of taking hard things and molding them into beautiful things. So He issues an invitation to us.
Stop escaping. Stop turning to temporary things as if they could ever provide lasting comfort (Ps. 119:37, 103). And open your Bible. Not out of obligation or guilt or fear, but out of the knowledge that in those pages you’ll find deep, full-fledged, difficult-but-always-worth-it healing (Ps. 147:3–5, 119:28, 76–77). It’s in there. Because Jesus is in there.
The hope of caffeine or Netflix binges or queso dip will always fall desperately short of anything Jesus offers us—and if we’re going to cultivate lives that thrive for His glory, we’re going to need the real stuff. The good stuff. The hope of the mind-blowing gospel found in beautiful pages of Scripture.
Maybe today was the pits. Pick up your Bible anyway, and if you aren’t sure where to turn, start with Psalm 119. Read the Psalmist’s words slowly, and pray that God would make His words like a soothing blanket that wraps ’round your soul.
Jesus is better than our escape route. Always.
Photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo