June 20, 2014

How Can We Provide Comfort?

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
—2 Corinthians 1:3-4


At the beginning of my work in ministry, while I was on my way to visit a family whose son had been killed in Vietnam, the question going through my mind was “What am I going to say?” What could I possibly say to parents who had just received the most devastating news imaginable?

Since that time I have learned that often the less we say, the better. In one of his books Charles Swindoll tells a story about a six-year-old girl whose neighborhood playmate had died. One day she went to visit her friend’s mom. When she came back, she told her mother where she had been. When her mother asked her what she had said, she answered, “I did not say anything. I just sat on her lap and cried a little.”

That little girl understood the secret of what it meant to bring comfort. In his book Lament for a Son, author Nicholas Wolterstorff, whose son died in a mountain climbing accident, says, “To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.”

There will be times when you will sit by the side of a grieving friend. Ask God to help you to come close and become his instrument in bringing his comfort.

Lord God, we often feel helpless and inadequate when people need comfort. Teach us how to give comfort in your name. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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