The Christian faith is not for those seeking comfort.
Yes — Christ can comfort us, and He often does. But Christ also is aware — in a way humanity simply cannot be — that comfort does not drive us to Him. Left to our own devices and given all of our desires, we would likely accept comfort and reject Him. We’d accept the world and its lusts and reject God and His joy.
But — that comes at a cost. When Christ told his disciples (you know, us) that following Him would mean sacrificing everything, He meant exactly that. We are not capable of doing both — of serving the world and Him. We cannot love both. And rest assured, left to our own devices, we will choose the world.
The part of denying ourselves we miss is how beneficial it ends up being toward our faith. Rejecting the world — and bearing that pain — stores up in us a joy and endurance that might not be attainable any other way. Trees learn to endure the wind by simply standing in the wind.
Why would it be different for us? And just like a tree, we must do this daily, fighting what remains of our former selves and striving toward Christ, His arms outstretched, beckoning us on, one step at a time. God is our father, teaching us to walk — just as a human father teaches his son or daughter to walk.
That process is painful, frustrating and sometimes humiliating, but it is vital. Consider what Luther has to say:
And I’ll tell you, I’ve seen the lightning flash. I’ve heard the thunder roll. I felt sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
There will at no point in our journeys be a moment where we must press on without Him there. Ever.