Comforting Others

What do you say to someone whose four-year-old son has died?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

In October of 2004 I was a pastor in a small town in Wisconsin. However, I was the pastor of a larger church in that small town. I kept plenty busy.

In addition to the regular tasks in my own congregation, I was also keeping watch on our sister congregation on the outskirts of our small town.

Their pastor was on a mission trip in Thailand and I agreed to look after his flock while he was gone. I would make hospital visits or home visits if an emergency arose.

And that is exactly what happened.

I received a phone call from one of the members of our sister congregation. Could I come out to the family dairy farm right away? There had been a terrible accident.

Their four-year-old son had been killed in a farming equipment accident.

I rushed out to the farm and pulled into the barnyard. The boy’s body was lying in the back of the family pickup, covered by a canvas cloth. I had arrived even before the coroner and ambulance had gotten there.

I went into the house and sat with the mother. She was grief-stricken and crying, as you’d expect. I could find no words but those of prayer, which I shared with her.

I then walked out to the barn to find the dad. He was continuing his work with the cows. On a dairy farm the work can never really stop. But I could tell his heart wasn’t into his work. Again, as you’d expect.

And again, I could find no words. So I just quietly helped him do the work for a while. Then I offered a simple prayer.

What was I going to do? Their pastor was 8,000 miles away! I was covering for him. But I never expected to have to handle anything like this!

I had done quite a few funerals up to this point. I had been a pastor for about ten years. But this was the first time I would do a funeral for a little boy. And I didn’t even know the family!

What do you say to someone whose four-year-old son has died?

I was going to have to figure this out in a few days as I would be leading the funeral service.

I had two obstacles. One, I didn’t know anything about what this family was going through. I had never lost a child. I had never even pastored a family who had lost a child.

So, I found people who had faced the death of a young child. I was able to talk to parents who knew first-hand what this family was going through.

That helped me shape the message enormously!

But while I had the message put together, I had another obstacle. This was a four-year-old boy. My son, Mark, was four years old at the time as well. And they even looked similar!

I got up in front of the congregation with this tiny casket in front and inside was a little boy that looked a little like my Mark!

It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that I was able to lead the service and preach the message. I am so thankful that I was able to talk with other parents that had gone through something like this.

They had been comforted by God in their affliction and told me about that. And so, they were able to provide comfort to this family with the same comfort of God that they had shared with me.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons we go through these kinds of things. So that we can help others get through them by sharing the love and comfort of God in Christ Jesus.

That thought has helped me get through numerous afflictions in my own life since then.


Heavenly Father, I pray that you will bring comfort to others through me by comforting me in the midst of my own afflictions; in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2017 True Men Ministries

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