Monday, September 8, 2008

Motivation and Desire For Comfort

By Phillips Brooks on 2 Cor. i. 3,4:

The desire for comfort may be a very high or a very low, a noble or a most ignoble wish. It is like the love of life, the wish to keep on living, which may be full of courage and patience, or may be nothing but a cowardly fear of death. We know what kind of comfort it must have been that St. Paul prayed for, and for which he was thankful when it came. We have all probably desired comfort which he would have scorned, and prayed to God in tones which he would have counted unworthy alike of God and of himself.

And the difference in the way in which people ask comfort of God, no doubt, depends very largely upon the reason why they ask it, upon what it is that makes them wish that God would take away their pain and comfort them. The nobleness of actions, we all know, depends more upon the reasons why we do them than on the acts themselves. Very few acts are so essentially noble that they may not be done for an ignoble reason, and so become ignoble. Very few acts are so absolutely mean that some light may not be cast through them by a bright motive burning within. And so it is not merely with what we do, but with what happens to us. It is not our fortune in life, our sorrow, or our joy; it is the explanation which we give of it to ourselves, the depth to which we see down into it, that makes our lives significant or insignificant to us.

All this, I think, applies to what St. Paul says about the comfort which God had given him. He gave to it its deepest and most unselfish reason, and so the fact of God's comforting him became the exaltation and the strengthening of his life.


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