Comfort The Afflicted, Afflict The Comfortable

“The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” 

This statement was made almost 100 years ago by a man named Finley Peter Dunne who was considered a great journalist at that time. Recently, we had a guest minister come to our church, and he mentioned that he had come to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I got curious about this phrase and did a search on it. That’s how I found out it was something originally quoted by a journalist about the newspaper. 

I’ve been thinking about this phrase some and how it relates to preaching.  What do you think? Is this the purpose of preaching, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?  I have my own opinion, which I plan on sharing soon, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment.


4 thoughts on “Comfort The Afflicted, Afflict The Comfortable

  1. I tend to agree with this statement. He is the Comforter. Isaiah 1;1 reads; “…he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; verse 3: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Yes, He comes to comfort the afflicted and at the same time to afflict the comfortable.

    When we get so comfortable where we are that is when we begin to slack off in doing what we need to be doing for the Lord. We don’t pray as we should pray, witness as we should witness, and etc. We then become stale and stagnated in our spiritual walk with the Lord and begin to drift backwards in our walk with Him. Next thing we know we are so far from the Lord and we don’t even know how we got there.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to take up so much space. 🙂

  2. I love this description of good preaching, whether carried out as journalism or as religion. The symmetry of “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” is poetically perfect.

    When I think further, I find that I really want to comfort affliction and afflict complacency. People are not really divided into the afflicted and the comfortable, but all of us have affliction and comfort, sometimes deriving one from the other. And I don’t think good religion nor journalism is opposed to comfort per se, but to the complacency that we may derive from it.

    1. Hello Michael, and thank you for your visit to my blog. It’s been a few years since I posted this, so I actually had to go back and reread what I wrote to refresh my memory. I never did do a follow up post where I shared my opinion, so I will briefly do that now. I think we need a balance of preaching that will afflict us when we’re comfortable(complacent and not doing the things we should be doing such as consistently praying and reading our Bibles, endeavoring to share the gospel with others)and comfort us in those times we are afflicted, whether it be a physical trial with our health that we are experiencing, seeing a loved one go astray, the death of a loved one, etc. A good pastor that is in tune with the Spirit of God will know when to preach what the congregation needs to hear. Hope this makes sense, and thanks again for dropping by and commenting.

  3. Ooops, and I wanted to set email notification, which I could only see how to do by posting another comment.

    And, I couldn’t find your (writeathome) “own opinion … sharing soon,” perhaps because I’m not so competent at navigating this thing.

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