Comfort food, comfort films or real comfort

Where do I find comfort in life? 

It happened again the other night, like many nights before. After settling into bed, all of the worries of the world rush in to interrupt another night of sleep. Family issues, financial struggles, the car needing to be taken into the shop, and what was that strange sound in the backroom? These are the thoughts that ride the wave of anxieties into the mind and lead to a restlessness that cannot be remedied. As we move through this adult life, many may be able to relate to this semi-regular game of ‘eyes wide open’ and all we do is to search for something to settle our souls. 

‘All food is comfort food. Maybe I just like to chew.’ Lewis Black

What is the solution? Many people turn to comfort food. These choices are the foods that take you back to a better time in your life and hold a special place in the stomach and heart. That sandwich, dish or flavour of ice cream that provides temporary solace in the worst of times. This restless night may be soothed by travelling back in time to Mum’s kitchen table or merely with a container of Chunky Monkey. As the refrigerator door opens and that slice of birthday cake comes into view, it is then that another concern occurs. As the light from the fridge illuminates the room, it also exposes a protruding waistline and all of a sudden that comfort food is not that comforting. With this additional health concern added to all the others that caused this bought of insomnia, what else is there to consider? 

‘Comfort films rarely have a pedigree. But then cinematic greatness is not what you’re in search of.’ Barry Welcher, 20th Century Fox

As the door to the refrigerator closes, another has the potential to open. The door to the television cabinet and the consideration of a comfort film. What is a comfort film? Before you reject this concept, think about it for a minute. What film takes you back to a better time in your life and provides the salve for your spirit when times are tough? 

Most people have that movie that they slide into the DVD player or stream on Netflix during troubled times to allow them to escape for a brief time. It is the one film that always makes you laugh or releases the floodgate of tears that are needed during this awkward stage of the night. 

As someone who sees more films than most during the week, many may think that I would need a break from this regular consumption of cinematic pleasure. This is a misconception, films still provide a salve for the worst of days for this fan of film. For me, it might be the escape back to youthful days in the fields of Iowa by watching Field of Dreams or to enjoy the hilarious banter amongst close friends in Oceans Eleven. It will be different for others, but everyone has those places of escapism and desire those worlds that can produce a short-term withdrawal from the reality of this life with the added concern of expanding their middle-aged midsection. 

Regardless of the use of food or films as a means of comforting, their assistance may remedy temporary insomnia for a short time, but do not provide a cure. Which brings us to the question of where to find true comfort during troubled times?  

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Next time this situation occurs, instead of going to the kitchen or sitting in front of the television. How about giving God a try? Something to consider is that He never sleeps, and is always willing to listen to your difficulties. By bringing these concerns to him in conversation, which some people categorise as prayer, the creator of the universe can provide the answers. 

Anyone can come to God and come into an eternal relationship with him. The key to this is coming to him as His child, and accepting of his position as Lord and as the solution for all things. Like any good father, he will provide solutions, even though they may be different than expected. 

A Christian teacher named Henry Blackaby said about this relationship, “as a child of God, you ought to expect God to answer your prayers. Do you ask God to do something without adjusting your life to what you are praying? If you are praying for forgiveness, are you still living with guilt? If you have asked God to provide for your needs, do you remain worried and anxious? Ask God to increase your faith, and then begin living a life that reflects absolute trust in Him.”

This idea may all seem different and may even seem a bit odd, but this is a better option for the beginning of an answer to anxiety or at least getting a better night’s sleep. Food and movies are gifts given to humanity, but they are not a solution within themselves. When you are working to find comfort during troubled times, why not give God a try? He is always listening and he has the answers if you are willing to listen. 

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.