God’s purpose is not just to comfort us – it is also to challenge us and change us

When in distress, we often approach God to gain relief. And yes, connecting with God can comfort us. Still, everything about God may not be comforting.

For example, Krishna’s message in the Bhagavad-gita may be challenging. Especially discomforting can be its battlefield setting in which Krishna urges Arjuna to persist in his duty of fighting, all the more so considering that Arjuna has to fight against his own relatives. When Arjuna laments the prospect of a fratricide, Krishna challenges him by deeming his lamentation spiritually uninformed (Gita 02.11).

Is Krishna licensing all violence? Not at all; he is exhorting Arjuna to take necessary assertive action for establishing dharma after the disrupters of dharma, who happen to be his relatives, have obstinately and arrogantly rejected all efforts for peaceful resolution.

Transcending its setting, Krishna’s core message centers on our eternal indestructibility as souls, his unfailing omni-benevolence and the supreme happiness awaiting us in pure spiritual love for him – all these are supremely comforting.

Undoubtedly, Krishna ultimately wants to comfort us, but not by perpetuating our stay at the material level of consciousness. He wants us to raise our consciousness to the spiritual level where eternal comfort awaits us.

When treating a patient, a doctor gives a comforting painkiller, but also gives a medicine that may be bitter. Similarly, Krishna by his remembrance gives us comfort, but then by the Gita’s provocative setting, he jolts us out of the material conception of life, thereby prompting us to expand our life-conception for including spiritual reality.

Arjuna is ultimately comforted by Krishna, as is evident in his concluding declaration (18.73). Similarly, if we let ourselves be challenged and changed by Krishna, we too will be led to life’s supreme comfort of spiritual absorption in our all-loving Lord.

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