Mugs of Comfort

by Jenni Key

February 10, 2021


My favorite gift this past Christmas came from my husband Jim—a small, beautifully wrapped box under the tree. When I went to open it, Jim raised his eyebrows, “That’s from me?”

“Well, yes,” I smiled. “I bought it at my favorite shop in Claremont and had them wrap it. I knew, after 46 years of marriage, you would want to give it to me and this way, one of us is surprised.” (Those who struggle to find just the right thing for a spouse probably cheer that solution!)

What I unwrapped was a beautiful bone china mug, designed by Susan Branch, a favorite illustrator and cookbook author. I think I’ve used it every day since Christmas, occasionally multiple times in a day. I’ve filled it with Murchie’s Decaf Black Current Tea (mail ordered from Victoria, B.C., Canada), Vanilla Black Tea from Tea & Teacups on Imperial in Yorba Linda and Tomato Bisque Soup from Trader Joe’s. I think you get the picture . . . comfort food, comfort drink when I’ve needed generous servings of both.

Comfort. What can be so easy with the littlest ones—putting them to mother’s breast, swaddling them, rocking them—becomes more difficult the older we get, doesn’t it? And when I use the word “comfort” I don’t mean in the sense of comfortable, but in the sense of being held, protected, cared for and calmed.

In John chapter 14, Jesus says some really important things, words meant to sustain and calm his disciples, such as “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas (one of our favorites because he so often says what we’re all thinking) speaks up to demand, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life . . .”

Ahh, those are comforting words.

But that’s not all. Jesus goes on to say this, a few verses later: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever . . .” Some versions use the word “Comforter” in place of Helper and I’m choosing to lean into that translation. A Comforter who indwells me. Who is with me always, running interference with the pain and loss and chaos of life. Who helps to make sense of what doesn’t, and beyond that, prompts me to fix my eyes on Jesus.

So these days—these uncertain, stressful, confusing days—I’m choosing to sit still with my hands cradling a warm mug, wrapped up in Jesus’ words of comfort.

Jenni serves on our staff as the Shepherd of Prayer and is probably making a cup of tea right now.