A girlfriend back home posts a photo on Facebook of the girls’ night out. Normally, you would be linked arms and smiling along with them. Or, you get a call from your mom telling you everyone will be home for the holidays—except you.
At moments like these, it’s understandable to get a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat. You wonder whether you have made the right decision to leave familiar faces. Perhaps though, people back home also seem insensitive. If they knew what it felt like to be outside their comfort zone, then they would behave differently. No one, you think, understands what I’m going through.
Even if you turn to God for comfort, how can God possibly comprehend? Where in the Bible do you find an experience similar to your own?
Finding Confidence in the Discomfort
If going to college is your first experience of leaving family and friends, be reassured most of your friends have left home for college, too. They share your discomfort. Even in your new college community—the people living in your dorm, sitting in your class, eating dinner on the next table in the dining hall—are most likely experiencing a sense of no one understands me. You have more in common than you think.
Perhaps you have relocated to a new high school, a new town, or a different country. There will be other people like you. This isn’t unusual in a world of globalization. We tend to think of relocation as a modern phenomenon, but people have migrated from place to place throughout history, including during biblical times. Moving outside your comfort zone is a biblical experience, too. We can look to the Bible for encouragement knowing God understands our situation.
Way back at the beginning of biblical history Abraham was called by God to leave his country, family, and friends in Ur to travel hundreds of miles to Haran and then onto Canaan. Today, this is a journey from southern Iraq to Turkey and then to Israel. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, went with him making home on the move from one new location to another.
Rebekah, probably only in her teens, left the familiarity of her home and family to travel with a stranger, who said she had been chosen by God to marry Isaac, to begin a new life in an unfamiliar location with a man she had never met.
Joseph, sold into slavery by his older brothers, lived in an exotic land and an alien Egyptian culture for many years before being reunited with his family.
Moses, raised in an Egyptian royal court at odds with a Hebrew way of life, fled to Midian, present day Saudi Arabia, for safety after murdering an Egyptian for abusing one of the Hebrew people.
Ruth left her native country to follow her mother-in-law and adopted Naomi’s country as her own and Naomi’s God as her God.
Each one of these characters knew what it was like to move out of their comfort zone.
Stepping outside your comfort zone leads you into God’s performance zone. This is where God accomplishes his plans.
Sarah became the mother of not just one nation, but the spiritual mother of all believers from many nations. Rebekah faithfully followed God’s calling on her life and bore descendants of Abraham. God chose Joseph to save his family and God’s people from starvation. Moses’ upbringing in the Egyptian royal household equipped him for negotiating with Pharaoh, and helped him lead the people of Israel out of Egypt to safety. Ruth was chosen to be a member of the genealogy of Jesus.
Although we might not be able to comprehend God’s vision for our lives, our current circumstances are part of God’s plan for us and other people. We can persevere knowing the biblical witnesses we’ve just read about are cheering us on.
Repeat this comfort—I am understood.
Be reassured, you are in good company.
Be encouraged, God fully understands what others seem to misunderstand.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)