My mother died recently, and, as happens when someone dies, cards, visits and food came pouring in. People would say about all this, “I was just trying to comfort them.” When I would sit down to open a stack of cards, I would read the return addresses before I opened the envelope and feel good about who sent it.
Visitation at the funeral home or at the church or even at the home is an important part of the burial process. I find that the time of visitation is usually not so sad, but rather becomes a time of laughter and enjoyment as stories are told, hugs given, and kind words are spoken. We find comfort in all that.
If someone were to ask, “What does it mean to ‘comfort’ someone?” we might have some difficulty answering. If you have a comfortable chair you like to sit in at home, you might think to comfort is to make someone feel good. Well, you might be half right with that idea.
If you ever hear someone say, “There’s nothing like the comfort of home,” you might think that means that we feel safe at home, or we know we will be cared for there. Again, that is being on the right path.
Psalm 23 says, “Your rod and staff comfort me.” The rod and staff have particular uses in herding sheep, with the rod helping to keep sheep together and the staff for rescuing from a dangerous position. Remember that that particular phrase is mentioned when going through the dark valley, the “Valley of Death.”
That they bring comfort is to say that the sheep do feel safe and are given courage to continue through the darkness because they know the shepherd is nearby. To be comforted is to be made stronger.
So never discount a visitation, a card or a bowl of potato salad. These things allow God’s grace to flow and help the one who has been wounded to persevere with courage. They can know that the shepherd is near as well as you, their friends.
Dr. Jay Hodges can be reached at Jayhodges610@yahoo.com.