Florence has been in the news a lot these past several days. And not Florence, Italy, the capital of the region of Tuscany. That historic city, which was home to the powerful Medici family and the misguided politician Machiavelli over half a millennium ago, went along peacefully while its namesake visited our coast.
Another Florence, named Nightingale, would have been right in the thick of the storm that has left its mark on dozens of communities and thousands of families. This Florence, named after the Tuscan city in which she was born, was a nursing pioneer who changed the way women and nursing were viewed as she served her people during the Crimean War of the mid-1800’s. She worked tirelessly, both day and night, to care for the sick and wounded. Her efforts included addressing the unsanitary conditions of the hospitals and treatment areas where she served, and she very quickly made an incredible impact in reducing the death rate of wounded soldiers by two-thirds. The Florence that left its devastation behind would have been the perfect situation for a person like Florence Nightingale to fulfill her calling.
Our area made out extremely well, especially compared to so many south and east of here. But that doesn’t mean it’s been all rose petals and sunshine, though. One of our growing partners where I work (a produce company) died yesterday from complications following surgery to remove a brain tumor. A couple weeks ago, he was managing our farms like he had done for us for nearly 30 years, and today his family and friends mourn his passing. Another co-worker lost her sister to cancer last week. And our company’s 82-year-old founder is recovering from surgery to remove the infection from his leg and treat it as it had gotten into his bloodstream. And tomorrow, it will be something else unwanted for someone who was probably not expecting it somewhere in our community.
When our CEO shared the news of our employee’s passing, he tried to offer some solace by encouraging us to trust and have faith. But he could not bring himself to say the word Jesus or Lord. He wanted us all to believe and have hope, but he would not urge us listeners to lean on Jesus. I do not know his reasons, much as I do not know what brings him to his church on Sundays. But this I do know, Jesus said that whoever is ashamed of Him and His words, Jesus will be ashamed of when He comes in glory.
It is not my intent or calling to judge my boss regarding his spiritual condition. I use this example only to compel each of us to judge ourselves. There is something greater than corporate appropriateness and political correctness. When you offer comfort to someone, you should be doing it in the name and love of Jesus. And that solitary motivation should not shrink from your lips.
If you’re helping out or consoling because you’re grieving and empathetic, that’s a good thing, too. But if someone asks you what your message of hope would be to the one suffering and your response doesn’t include to trust in Jesus, then temporary comfort is all they’re getting. But when the cancer strikes or the ceiling caves in or the waters wash away, more than that will be needed for eternity. Be someone who shares living hope, because it’s living within you.