One day in 1932, pianist, singer, and songwriter Thomas A. Dorsey (not big band leader Tommy Dorsey) discovered his need for God’s comfort. He left his pregnant wife Nettie at home in Chicago while he drove his Model A to St. Louis to sing at a revival meeting. All went well, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. At the end of Dorsey’s performance, he received a telegram with the tragic news that his wife had died in childbirth. Within hours, the baby boy also died.
Filled with grief, Dorsey sought answers. Should he have stayed in Chicago and not gone to St. Louis? Had God done him an injustice? A few days after Nettie’s death, Dorsey sat down at the piano and began to play. Finally sensing God’s peace and closeness, he began to sing some new words and play a new song:
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand;
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light;
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
What is it you need from the God of all comfort?
Tags: comfort, Dorsey, trials
Many years ago a man in Waterloo shot his wife, three children, and then himself in a murder-suicide. They lay in the house for five days before anyone checked and found them dead. The news sent a shock wave through the community. I received phone calls from worried mothers asking if I could counsel their children, who couldn’t sleep at night for fear their fathers would kill them.
I arranged to have a counselor from Northeastern Center (there were no Christian counseling centers back then) come to the Waterloo Library to meet with any children who wanted to come. About 15 showed up, with their parents, and Dr. Greg Sowles did a great job assisting them in dealing with their trauma.
In addition to the question ‘Why?’, we must also ask the question, why was it five days before someone noticed they were missing? Was there a disconnect with society? Did that isolation add to the hopelessness of the man? Were there others who share responsibilty for the isolation?
None of these questions have answers, of course. I’m just pointing out the value of community when we face troubled times. The church should be a great support group, comforting and encouraging one another.
Who is it you need to call and check on right now?
Tags: comfort, isolation, lonliness
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
In this verse David moves into another word picture, walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Both ‘valley’ and ‘shadow’ are referring to emotions we feel at troubled times in our lives. We’ve all been through that valley and out on the other side. Fortunately, on the other side of every valley is a another mountain top. We don’t dare get stuck in the valley as some people do. I remember an aged lady in Betz’s Nursing Home whose husband had divorced her years ago. She still talks bitterly about it. She is stuck in the valley. David reminds himself (and us) that no matter how dark it gets in that valley, he doesn’t have to fear evil, because God is with him.
The other element that carries him through the valley is that the Shepherd’s rod and staff comfort him in the journey. The rod and staff were the two purposes of the shepherd’s staff that the Good Shepherd used in caring for the sheep. The crooked end of the staff was used for rescuing sheep which might fall over a precipice. The rod was the disciplinary use of the staff when a lamb became a stinker. Both of these were there to give comfort to David.
When was the last time you considered the Lord’s chastening a comfort to you?
Tags: comfort, darkness, discipline, shadow, valley