Chaplains Go There
The phone call was unexpected, asking if I could report to a location that we don’t usually serve. A husband was lost to suicide. The wife, to whom I was sent to speak, was deeply distressed by the news. In fact, she began to cry out, “No, no, it’s not true!” and she began attacking the officer who informed her of the news.
When I arrived on the scene, the officer was deescalating the situation and laying the groundwork for her to speak with me. “Ma’am,” the compassionate officer said, “I could arrest you for assaulting an officer. But I understand that this has been very difficult for you. If you will talk to the chaplain, and be calm, I’ll forget it happened.”
From that beginning, the Lord gave us many conversations through multiple meetings, joint trips to the Coroner’s office and a funeral. This was a close-up encounter with the pain a family is left with following a suicide. It is also an example of moral injury.
Moral injury happens to the heart and to the soul. Usually, it is the result of an individual causing harm to self or others. It is a personal encounter with a situation which no one should have to endure. Most people try to avoid confronting moral injury; chaplains go there, addressing it head-on.
What is a chaplain? Someone who willingly meets people where they are, empathizes with them in their situation, and offers them comfort from God. Chaplains go there, bringing the balm of Gilead, the healing comfort of love, which we have learned from Jesus.
Read a familiar Psalm in a new way:
The LORD is my Chaplain; I lack nothing.
His comforting love physically feeds me, calms my emotions, and restores my soul.
Even though I’m dealing with death, walking where no one wants to go,
My Chaplain goes with me.
Your compassionate use of the Word comforts me.
In spite of moral injuries caused by my foes,
I’m honored with a banquet of compassionate love and mercy all the days of my life.
I’m adopted into his family and home forever.
Thank you for sending chaplains to meet people whenever and wherever they are injured. Your gifts send compassionate servants of the Good Shepherd, who apply the balm of Gilead to bind up the broken-hearted.
Pastor Philip Henselin