By: Staci Stallings
A word that has recently popped up to be explored is “comfort.” Now, if you’re like me, you think this word has to do with giving compassion to someone at a weak place in their lives. To an extent that’s true, but let’s look at what comfort really means and see how much better we understand what we are doing when we give comfort.
The first part of comfort is “com” which means “with.” Compassion means “with passion.” Comfort therefore means with something. But what?
Here’s where the word turned on its head for me. The second part of comfort is… “fort.” Fort? What? Doesn’t that mean “strength”? If you want to be safe, you go to a fort. Fortitude is one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which means strength and courage.
So, comfort means “with strength”? Funny. I’d never thought of strength when thinking of comforting someone. But on closer inspection, that’s exactly what we aim to do when giving comfort—to give someone strength, fortitude, courage to endure the suffering they are now face with.
For some reason this understanding gives new meaning to my efforts to comfort someone in times of crisis. Before I was simply commiserating with them. Now, I realize that I am offering them the strength to persevere in spite of opposition and obstacles. That strength may come through a simple hug, a kind word, or a long conversation. However it comes, it is a piece of strength that will help them face and deal with the current situation.
I don’t know about you, but to me, that is an awesome opportunity—far more valuable than I ever previously understood.