All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. Genesis 37:35
This is a tough scene. It’s hard to even read about as I picture a brokenhearted father being comforted by sons who were more enemies than family. They had dipped Joseph’s coat into a pool of goat’s blood, handed it to their father, knowing he could make only one conclusion. His son had been killed by a wild animal. Not one of them was going to tell Dad the truth, admitting that they had sold Joseph to slave traders. What did they do on the other side of their lying? Tried to comfort their father. But was it really comfort?
It’s really quite something who turns up for funerals. Close friends, family members, acquaintances, and even various people with whom we have shared a strained relationship. Truth be told, it’s curiosity that brings many. Some want to see how we are handling hard times. They might even enjoy seeing us so vulnerable. While this may only describe the motives of some, let’s face it. For a brief moment, they are elevated to the powerful position of a comforter.
I should always comfort with integrity. There are relationships where there has been wounding. Things have never been mended. I might describe the status as ‘tense’. I should comfort them in a way that is consistent with the level of our relationship. I shouldn’t use their grief for my own gain. There is something in each of us that enjoys feeling powerful. When I’m in a position to give, to help, and to comfort, the gesture can be more for me than the one I’m supposedly helping.
I bear the burden to act with integrity. The one who is grieving is taken up with his grief. He is vulnerable and can’t sort through the intentions behind the embraces he receives. He is also momentarily childlike and I am responsible to handle his powerless moment in a way where I can face Jesus without regret. Any comfort I extend is really on His behalf. Am I representing Him well?
Jacob refused to be comforted. I wonder if, in his gut, he knew that there had been foul play. The one who weeps should never be put in a position to have to figure out the motives of those who appear compassionate. God holds me responsible for how I handle the one who is momentarily feeble.
Give me the courage to be ‘true’. Always. Amen