I received the sad news on Tuesday morning of the sudden passing of a dear friend, aged 54. I have been asked by her husband, a friend and colleague, if I would preach at her funeral. Of course, I agreed.
It’s never easy to prepare for a funeral, but it can be especially difficult to prepare to proclaim God’s Word at a funeral for someone you knew well, and loved. What makes it easy, if such a thing can ever be ‘easy’, is that she loved the Lord Jesus and followed him faithfully. There will be no doubt in anyone’s mind when it is expressed that she has gone to join the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12.1, NIV). We all know that she now lives to praise her Lord and Saviour eternally, where there is “no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21.4, NLT).
That assurance leaves her loved ones encouraged, despite our loss. And it leaves us wondering how anyone ever handles the death of a loved one without the assurance that comes with faith. Readers from a Dutch Reformed tradition will be very familiar with these affirming words of faith from Question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism:
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
When followers of Jesus die, they do so with the comfort of belonging to Jesus. As hymnist Norman J. Clayton wrote many years ago:
Jesus my Lord will love me forever, From Him no pow’r of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul; Now I belong to Him;
Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone, But for eternity.
Do you have that comfort, in life and in death? Do you belong to Jesus? If you’re not sure, I want to help. Just email me and we can talk about it.
May the Lord give you his comfort, by faith.