Shady Comforters

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. A brokenhearted father was 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. What did they do on the other side of their lying?  Made some attempt to comfort their father.

It’s interesting who often turns up for funerals. Besides friends, family members, and close acquaintances, curiosity brings others who might want to see how the family handles pain and loss. While this only describes the motives of a few, these people are momentarily elevated to the powerful position of comforters.

God’s people should always comfort with integrity. There are relationships where there has been wounding. Things have never been mended. Comfort should be expressed in a way that is consistent with the level of the relationship. The one who is grieving is vulnerable and can’t sort through the intentions behind the embraces he receives. He is also childlike and looks to others to handle his powerless moments 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 second-guess the motives of those who appear compassionate.

Help me always be ‘true.’ Amen

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