Everyone has a favourite food that not only fills the stomach, but also warms the heart. Chocolate is a favourite, or sometimes ice cream and even macaroni. Whenever someone feels particularly vulnerable, blue or upset, comfort food is often the line of first defence.
When I was little and sick in bed with a sore throat, my mother made me snow pudding. It was a frothy whipped lemon gelatine dessert made with real lemons and covered with custard sauce. I absolutely loved it and, until I got my tonsils removed at five years old, I had lots of chances to eat it.
I don’t know how my mother made it and I doubt that I could make it myself. I’ve never had much luck with gelatine desserts. The fruit always sinks to the bottom and half the time it doesn’t even gel. Now I know it wasn’t just the pudding that comforted me as a child. The best part was knowing that my mother made it especially for me, because she loved me.
The need for comfort is universal. Around the world people in distress yearn for the one dish or drink that will remind them of their happiest and most secure childhood memories. The recipes don’t matter because the most important part is always the love with which the food was served. Sadly, no matter how nostalgic we may be for our childhood, simply eating the same food will not satisfy the inner child. Once we’ve scraped the plate and licked our spoons or drained the last drop in our cup, the comfort disappears.
Our Lord Jesus once met a woman in great need of comfort. Her life was a shambles of broken relationships and insecurity. She didn’t even associate with the other women in her village who went to the town well in the cooler part of the day. She went instead during the hottest hour so that she could draw her water without their judgmental stares and whispers. Jesus saw her pain and offered her water that would end her thirst forever.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13, 14)
On another occasion, after feeding a crowd of 5000, Jesus said, “Do not labour for the food which perishes…I am the bread of life; he who comes to e shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:27-35)
The greatest comfort food of all is commemorated in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. It’s our reminder that, “God so loved the world He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Now that is true comfort!