Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Friday, September 21, 2007

Boreham on Comforting the Crushed

F W Boreham, in an essay on the insipid comments made by modern day ‘Job’s comforters’, shares a memorable experience from his childhood:

“We have no right to play with crushed spirits and breaking hearts. 'A person in distress,’ says John Foster, ‘has peculiarly a right not to be trifled with by the application of unadapted expedients; since insufficient consolations but mock him, and deceptive consolations betray him.’”

“I remember very vividly a circumstance of my childhood. It was my first introduction to the problem of human loss, and it profoundly affected me. I chanced to be standing, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, by the gates of the local infirmary. It was visiting day. As I watched the relatives arriving I was struck with the appearance of a big, brawny man from the country. He made no secret of his excitement. He had evidently counted the hours, and had spruced himself up like a village bridegroom for the occasion. He approached the porter: ‘I've come to see my wife, Martha Jennings,’ he said. The porter consulted a book, and then, with what seemed to me brutal abruptness, replied: ‘Martha Jennings is dead!’”

“I saw the bronzed face blanch; I saw the strong man stagger. I watched him as he clung to the iron palings for support, and bowed himself in a passion of weeping.”

“And then, as I stood there, good-natured people, pitying, essayed to comfort him. They rang the changes on the commonplaces. ‘Other friends remain !’ ‘Loss is common to the race!’ But it was of no use: ‘All vacant chaff well meant for grain.’” ….

“I have never entered the chamber of death in all the years of my ministry without recalling the tragedy I witnessed that Sunday afternoon.”

F W Boreham, ‘Ipecacuanha’, The Luggage of Life (London: Charles H Kelly, 1912), 114-115.

Image: “and bowed himself in a passion of weeping.”