I stood with the family on a hill nestled way back in the “holler” and watched as they lowered the casket into the ground. The setting was picturesque. The rolling hills just outside of Gate City, Virginia were eclipsed in beauty only by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. We buried him that day on the farm that had been a part of the Oliver family for generations.
Parents aren’t supposed to bury their child – especially a young Marine in his thirties. Dalton had been a specimen of health and strength until the cancer took its toll. We prayed for a miracle often throughout his illness, knowing that God is a healer. We don’t always understand God’s ways and why the answer is sometimes, “no.”
As a pastor who has stood with grieving families more times than I care to count, I was once again at a loss for words. What do you say? What words can possibly comfort a grieving parent? Or spouse? Or child? Or friend?
I know all the clichés: I’m so sorry. May God comfort you. He’s in a better place. He’s not suffering anymore. Time heals all wounds.
I remember all the kind words offered by family and friends when I was the one sitting at the funeral in shock and sorrow on that dreaded front row. But those well-worn platitudes, while much appreciated, seemed to have little effect. Surely there is something that can bring real, palpable comfort.
In times of sorrow and loss, what has brought me great comfort is the Word of God! In Romans 15, Paul spoke of the “comfort of the scriptures.” Words from a friend in times of grief and tragedy are appreciated and give some measure of comfort. But there are no words that bring comfort like the very Words of God spoken to us through the scriptures.
The Psalms can be like salve for the soul that’s hurting. The poetic prose of the prophets is like balm for the broken. Is it possible to read the blessings of the beatitudes and it not soothe the sorrow and ease the grief? The Parables of our Lord point to our purpose beyond the pain. The epistles remind us of the beauty of our salvation and give validation to our hope-filled grief.
When there are no words, there is always The Word
Comfort. It’s not only when death or tragedy strikes that we need comfort. Our day-to-day lives are often mixed with trials and tribulation. Disappointment and sorrow come in many sizes and shapes. But, whether it’s a devastating loss of a loved one or a disappointment along life’s journey, I encourage you to look to the Word of God to find comfort for soul. When there are no words, there is always The Word.
Let me give you some practical suggestions on finding comfort in the scriptures:
- Before you read, pray and ask God to speak comfort to you from His Word. Pray that He will lead you to just the right passages of scripture.
- As you open your Bible, open your heart and emotions. For God’s Word to bring comfort we cannot read it with a closed spirit. Don’t worry if tears fall on the pages. Tear-stained Bibles are the best kind!
- He will talk to you through His Word. Hear Him speaking directly to your sorrow and grief. Listen! He is speaking words of hope and comfort.
- There are many themes that bring comfort. I suggest starting with Psalms, the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3, and the letters of Paul, James and Peter.
Open your heart as you open your Bible and God’s Word will bring you comfort and peace!