We need to be uncomfortable

by Elizabeth Shirk

Elizabeth is our new “millennial writer.” She lives in inner city Chicago where her father is a “missionary” to the art culture there. Elizabeth recently graduated from college with honors and is pursuing a career in teaching. Their home is within earshot of some of the recent rioting. <emshirk00@gmail.com>

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Trinity is a beautiful, intelligent, courageous black teenager. She has participated in peaceful protests several times over the last few days, calling for justice. I had the opportunity to watch this beautiful young woman on a Facebook Livestream the other day. Her words stopped me in my tracks.

We need to be uncomfortable.

Those five simple words got me thinking. Death by the hands of cops should make us uncomfortable. Death by anyone’s hands should make us uncomfortable. Violence and racism towards anyone should make us uncomfortable. Injustice should make us uncomfortable.

We don’t like to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable feels unsafe and dangerous. We don’t always understand why we feel uncomfortable. We tell ourselves we didn’t personally cause these problems. Sometimes the events that make us feel uncomfortable are far away and don’t directly impact us or anyone we know. We prefer to push away these uncomfortable feelings and retreat to a comfortable place.

We need to be uncomfortable.

Jesus was uncomfortable. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He wept over Jerusalem, knowing what was to come for the city (Luke 19:41-44). He saw that the people were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 9:36). When faced with the sinful, brokenness of our world which separates us from God, He stepped into uncomfortable and controversial situations offering love and grace. 

It was not easy. It was not comfortable. It was not safe. It cost Him His life, as He was crucified by His enemies—including you and me.

Are we prepared to be filled with sorrow and grief when we see injustice in our broken world? Do we weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)? Do we look at our world and have compassion because the people Jesus loved enough to die for are like sheep without a shepherd? Are we willing to allow God to work through us to bring love and justice, even when it makes us uncomfortable?

If you feel uncomfortable about recent events, this isn’t bad. It’s normal. It’s Christ-like. Racism, injustice, hostility, violence… these are uncomfortable things we are called to oppose.

We need to be uncomfortable.

I’m going to write that down on a piece of paper and post it on my prayer board so that I am constantly reminded of this fact. Calling for justice is hard, and scary, and uncomfortable, but it’s part of what we’ve been called to do. Let’s all choose to be uncomfortable.

Like Jesus.

For further thought and discussion:

What is it about what Elizabeth is asking us — “to be uncomfortable” makes us so uncomfortable?

Is it a call for justice?  Is it the call to do something about what is unjust?

What is it that makes me uncomfortable about the fact that where someone lives can determine whether he/she lives?

What is it about the fact that many are without clean water while I can get a cup of fresh water from my tap or purified water from my corner grocery store?

Elizabeth does not need to worry whether her statement — “We need to be uncomfortable” —  is making me feel uncomfortable. I am now very uncomfortable. What about you? Why might you be joining me in the uncomfortableness we are feeling?

Is it because we embrace justice and are activity doing something about it? I am not recommending you join a  protest. You can if you feel like doing so. But being a part of a protest does not make me seek justice for the unjust.

What is it I am being called to do besides feeling uncomfortable?  I am uncomfortable alright. And I will tell you why. I do not want to beseech my Lord to ask, “What would you have me do to make right what is unjust? What is it that you are asking me to show up for? What is your  assignment for me — where your justice is working in and through my life for the benefit of what has gone so terribly wrong — to show up and let you work through me — for the unjust?”

I say I want to be wherever You are. But if this is true, I know I will aways find you with the vulnerable and the poor. You are in the slums, in the tents of those without homes. You are in the silence of a mother who is infected by a pandemic that will end her life and thus create a motherless child.  You are in the cries heard under the rubble of war. You are in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives. You are with me if I am with them.

Elizabeth says, “If you feel uncomfortable about recent events, this isn’t bad. It’s normal. It’s Christ-like. Racism, injustice, hostility, violence… these are uncomfortable things we are called to oppose.”

And I will add, “So …. Lord, what would you have me do?”

This entry was posted in community, diversity, pandemic, racism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to We need to be uncomfortable

  1. Kirk Palmer says:

    Growth and comfort cannot coexist.

  2. Bob Pusey says:

    Thanks Elizabeth and John for giving me a lot to think and pray about. I hope that I can find a way to put my discomfort into action, and turn grace outward.

    • jwfisch says:

      You will because you are humble and teachable and the Lord will show you how. The fact that you want to know is half the battle. By the way, thank Marti … the questions were mostly hers. She’s good at stuff like that.

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    Excellent article. Important questions. On the spot comments. Thanks for this Catch.

  4. Mark D Seguin says:

    Great read!

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