top of page

The Blessing of Discomfort -- Isaiah 58:1-12 (First Sunday in Lent)

There’s a Franciscan blessing that begins like this:

May God bless you with discomfort.

May God bless you with discomfort –

at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships –

so that you may live deeply and from the heart.

Every time I hear or speak the blessing – “May God bless you with discomfort” – I get uncomfortable. It’s an edgy blessing. May God bless you with discomfort. Who wants to be blessed with discomfort?

And it doesn’t stop there. This Franciscan blessing goes on and blesses us with anger– at violence, injustice and the oppression of people. It blesses us with tears to shed – with those who mourn. And it blesses us with foolishness – to believe that we can make a difference in this ol’ world.

Who blesses people with discomfort, and anger, and tears to shed, and foolishness? How could that possibly be a blessing?

Over the course of Lent – as we consider “Blessing for the Journey” – we’ll consider each of these blessings.

Today, we consider the first: “May God bless you with discomfort.”

In today’s Scripture, the prophet speaking in the name of Isaiah blesses the people with discomfort. This is an uncomfortable, squirm-in-your-seat kind of Scripture. The people in this text are already having a hard time.[1] This part of Isaiah (Third Isaiah) was probably written after the exile. Jerusalem has been conquered, reduced to rubble – a significant number of the people have been taken into exile in Babylon, while others are left behind.

And 70 years later, the exiles (their children and grandchildren)