Book Review –The Broken Home: Lessons in Sorrow

“How often it is in the thick darkness Jehovah reveals Himself as the Comforter of His people!” - Benjamin Morgan Palmer 

I made the mistake of starting Benjamin Morgan Palmer’s book while sitting in my allergist’s office awaiting my weekly allergy shot. After reading a few pages, tears had welled up in my eyes. The title, “Lessons in Sorrow,” is an apt one. 

Benjamin Morgan Palmer (18-18-1902) was the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, LA. Though his ministry was wildly successful, his home life was filled with deep sadness. Palmer and his wife were blessed with six children. But the joy Palmer found in his family would quickly be turned to a sorrow of the most profound kind. Palmer would eventually lose his wife and five of his six children to illnesses of various kinds. 

Death is a stranger to those of us living in today’s world. It visits our lives from time to time when we lose a friend or a family member. But even then, it is largely contained in the walls of a hospital or a nursing home. It comes for a visit, but then it leaves for a long time.  Things were different in Palmer’s day. Death was a constant companion rather than an occasional visitor.

Out of his intimate familiarity with death, Palmer wrote this book. He recounts simplyand without adornment his experience of the death of his wife and five children. From each death, he draws a lesson or two about God. His work is true experiential Christianity in its most raw form. 

All of us must confront death –when it visits those we love –and one day when it comes to visit us. I pray that through Palmer’s intimate acquaintance with death, you may learn to look beyond its fearful reality to the glorious hope of the One who rose victorious from the grave.

Your Pastor and Friend,
John Knox Foster 

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