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Monday 15 April 2024

On Death and Hope


Image: Unsplash

I went to the funeral of a friend’s son recently. And it was a sad event, as all funerals are, but it was also the model of what you want from such a funeral: a mix of joy and mourning; joy that the young man was a genuine believer and that he was going to see the Lord, and mourning for the clear loss of a loved one.

Every Christian funeral requires us to work hard around these twin truths. Loss and expectation of final joy.  

Of course, this is not the sort of funeral you ever actually want to experience, the funeral of a child. No funeral is looked forward to, but the funeral of the death of someone who has lived a full life is far less painful that the death of someone young. This is the second such funeral I had ever been to and it is heartbreaking. Something no parent ever wants to see, or have to experience.

During the funeral the preacher brought out a magnificent observation from the book of Ecclesiastes 7:2-4,

“2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”

He observed that this might sound the opposite of true, but the truth is people are much more likely to contemplate their life in the house of mourning, than in the house of mirth. And that this is good for us, because we do need to contemplate these things. He is right, absolutely correct.  

A funeral like that makes you consider a lot of things. But chief among them is the desperate need to get the message of God into the hearts and minds of our children, to teach them his word regularly, and pray for them that they may have a heart of understanding of the gospel of our Lord. Every single one of our lives is a gift from God. But, it is a fleeting gift. We don’t know how much time we have left, we don’t know how much time we have with our loved ones. Our lives here are just a vapour, they are a mist that vanishes in too short a time. And some of us get far less time than others, and all of us get less time with our loved ones that we would like. And until Jesus returns “this is the end of all mankind.”

The only hope any of us have of longevity is to hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for our sins that we deserve on the cross and rose again to prove that he was the Son of God and could achieve for us the resurrection and every lasting life. We need to make sure that our kids get this message regularly. As Moses says in Psalm 90:12, “12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” And what is wisdom? To fear the Lord and obey him. We desperately need to believe this message and also to believe the urgency with which we should share it with others, especially those we love the most.

Praise God for the resurrection, it is our greatest hope, our only hope, the hope of mankind. Pray for those around you who do not believe, that they would open their eyes to the light of God and that God would open their eyes so that they could trust in him. Bless you.  


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