Funerals aren’t usually on our planning agendas, yet they are a blessing from God. In a very short time, we have said goodbye to four friends. Three of them had been Staff or Board members. All of them are dear to our hearts. Many people dread funerals. That’s because they haven’t experienced the wonderful comfort which God provides at funerals. This comfort is given on many levels.
First, if we were left wondering about what happened to our loved one after death, a funeral would be a terrible ordeal. But Jesus went before us. He bore our sins and paid for them. He died our death and rose again. Jesus’ death means our life. “Whoever believes in me will live even if he dies.” — Jesus. (John 11:25) While it is hard to say goodbye, we also have a great joy. Our loved one who believes in Jesus is home. God has given us a great certainty. We lay our loved ones to rest, confident that God is faithful in all his promises. “I am the Good Shepherd…I lay down my life for the sheep…no one can pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:14, 15, 29) Our loved ones who died in Jesus are home eternally.
However, the blessings don’t just stop there. Each time we gather for a funeral, we learn how God was at work in and through our loved ones, and how he used them to make an eternal difference in the hearts and lives of others, not for a week or a year, but forevermore! “I have placed my words in your mouth…” — God to Isaiah, and all God’s servants. (51:16)
Each time we gather for a funeral, there is typically a visitation beforehand and a fellowship meal afterwards. Each time there are hugs and handshakes, laughter, and tears. These are expressions of tenderness that we might otherwise have failed to offer. Have you stopped to value that time we share together? It’s truly a gift of God. “When I am with you…we will be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, yours and also mine.” — Paul, to the church at Rome. (1:12)
May we always be each other’s comfort and strength, a source of God’s Word from our lips to another’s ears. God use us to be a blessing to many!