Comfort or Confront? (part 1)

Ever heard a quote that instantly got inside your head? Or even changed your paradigm, or at least spoke directly to a situation you were facing? 

That happened to me last week, ironically while I was watching a movie with my husband. 

Jeremy and I are history buffs, and we’re currently enjoying a Civil War medical drama called “Mercy Street.”  (I recommend it only if the grisly side of medical procedures doesn’t bother you. Just saying.) 

So during an episode, a Union chaplain and a Southern minister find themselves at the death bed of a fatally wounded Confederate soldier. As the men’s voices raise in debate over deeply held political differences, a grieving family member enters the room and falls across the body of the deceased young soldier.  Her grievous weeping reproves the men, and their angry voices grow quiet as they silently observe. 

When at last the chaplain speaks again, his voice is restrained with emotion- 

“In her grief is found our purpose: to comfort, not to confront.”

I’ve pondered this simple statement much over the past few days, especially as our state, Texas, has reeled from the school shooting that cruelly took the lives of over 20 students and teachers in an elementary school last week. Social media feeds are flooded right now with emotionally-driven opinions about everything from gun control to arming teachers in public schools. 

I’ve felt so weary from all the opinions, all the grief, all the differences we’ve endured as a nation- as a world- over the past two years. Can we agree on nothing? Is there no middle ground? And who is “right” in all this confusing cacophony of political and moral noise?

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As I sat on my living room sofa last week, trying to think about anything other than politics and opinions, that simple statement landed profoundly in my heart. 

“In her grief is found our purpose: to comfort, not to confront.” 

Like a key that suddenly turned the lock on a soundly latched door, I immediately understood my purpose in this season– not to confront and solve and discover where to cast blame/responsibility. (It’s very much my nature to do all those things.)  But to comfort those who are hurting because of this broken, messed up world that is our home. 

I can’t fix the angry teenagers, the addicts, the scared school kids, the grieving parents or teachers, the confused, the sexually disoriented, the discouraged saint, or the fearful church member. 

But I can give forward the grace and mercy that has been so generously given by God to me. 

I can listen when I’d rather lecture.

I can choose to comfort when my inner judge would prefer to confront. 

There is a time to confront- I have some thoughts to share about that next week. But for most of us, most of the time, our purpose is to comfort. 

That’s what Jesus did. (The only people He really confronted were the religious leaders. That’s a sobering thought for those of us in vocational ministry.) 

Truth is, when we offer understanding and kindness, hearts often open to receive the truth we have to give as well. But grace comes first, then truth.  

The order matters. And, most of all, hearts matter

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So how is your heart? Have you been on the receiving end of comfort or confrontation lately? Is it hard to comfort right now because you’re so weary yourself? 

Let me know how I can pray for you.  

xo,

Kristy Lynn

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