“Gravy is a beverage in Dixie,” says a southern friend of mine. They put it on everything! Potatoes, meat, hash browns, and bread. There’s something about gravy that makes people comfortable. Thus the term, “comfort food.”
Describing why such food is comforting is hard. But you just know it is. A good plate of fried chicken brings more than a drool. It brings back memories: a childhood home, a warm kitchen, the smell of mom’s cooking, family times at the table, playing with the cousins at family reunions, etc.
Everybody has their own comfort food. In the south it might be fried chicken or gravy, in the Midwest it could be a steak and sweet corn, in New Orleans maybe its gumbo or shrimp, and in Chicago perhaps pizza.
You don’t have to think about comfort food when it’s set in front of you. You just eat it, enjoy it, and know its right. You walk into a house where it’s being cooked and your nose tells you what’s on the stovetop before your eyes do.
One of my favorite childhood foods was fried squirrel. And the gravy from it is out of this world! (Just trust me on that one.) It’s hard for city folks to think of eating squirrel, but for me it brings back memories of hunting with my father, the smell of an oiled .22 rifle, and my grandmother in the kitchen cooking up our bounty.
Comfort food makes you feel you’re in the right place. We attach feelings to comfort food and don’t even realize it: the feel of a familiar place, people who love us, security of our home, and the continuity of tradition.
Although God is not going to make us a plate of fried chicken, knowing him brings a level of comfort we can find nowhere else.
The best known Psalm discusses the comfort of God. Notice verse 4 of Psalm 23:
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
God is the god of comfort. His rod and staff are not for beating us, but for guiding us. He uses them to direct our path, to give us boundaries, to gently correct us. He uses them to fend off our enemies.
When we face the harsh realities of life, we can rely on Him to be there. He’s there during death, illness, persecution, wayward children, layoffs, relationship problems, and financial stress.
The reason we gravitate towards “comfortable” things in this life is because we live in a harsh world. Like Norm said on Cheers, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world and I’m wearing milkbone underwear.” It’s tough out there!
However, the things of this life only bring temporary comfort. When a meal of “comfort food” is done, we forget it. The comfort God brings is not only for the moment but for eternity. There’s a peace from knowing him that transcends anything we can face.
The plate of fried chicken tonight will taste and feel good, but saying grace before is where the real comfort lies.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – Jesus