In this episode of Tidbits from Church History, Lee Dodd discusses this difficult period of Calvin’s life in the earliest years of his labor and ministry in Geneva, Switzerland. There is much we can glean through considering Calvin’s exile today.
More on Calvin’s Suffering
Severe trials would come the following year in the form of sickness and death. The plague that had come through Strasburg now swept through Geneva. Calvin refused to abandon his flock and seek safety outside town, risking his life to remain and comfort his ailing parishioners.
Then in the summer of 1542, Calvin’s only child was born and died only two weeks later. It was a great blow. He wrote to his close friend Viret, “The Lord has certainly inflicted a severe and bitter wound in the death of our baby son. But he is himself a father and knows best what is good for his children.”
Calvin’s wife would have no more children and would remain sickly until her death in the spring of 1549. Upon her death, Calvin again wrote to Viret:
You know well how tender, or rather soft, my mind is. Had not a powerful self-control been given to me, I could not have borne up so long. And truly, mine is no common source of grief. I have been bereaved of the best companion of my life, of one who, had it been so ordained, would have willingly shared not only my poverty but even my death.
During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance. She was never troublesome to me throughout the whole course of her illness, but was more anxious about her children than about herself.
As I feared these private worries might upset her to no purpose, I took occasion three days before she died, to mention that I would not fail in discharging my duty towards her children.
– from Desiring God