I remember sitting in the pew besides my family feeling very small compared to the looming casket that dominated the front of the church. My strong father cried at his mother’s funeral that day. Another day years later with a similar setting, and yet I had the same feelings. That day I had to stand up and give the life sketch that could barely capture the story-book worthy life of my uncle Gary Ripley.
Pictures flash through my mind of other memorial services I have attended for others I have loved, pictures in my mind of other services for people who have touched my life. Each picture brings with it tears. No doubt your mind dredges up similar events, memories and feelings. Each time I flip through this picture album in my mind there is an aching sadness inside me. I mourn the places these very precious people where in my life, the roles they played in my life. The pain is there because they are no longer a part of my life. I have to remind myself that in the midst of the ache there is an echo. '
The echo says, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. Therefore encourage each other with these words." 1Thessalonians 4.
While I mourn the loss of each of these people, and I recount to myself, and to those who also knew them, how incredible they were, there is hope that there will be a time that I will once again see their faces. There is a time of reunion coming. The separation is acutely felt. Their presence, no longer here with me, is real. But in the midst of the tears is the promise that there will be a time to gather together again and embrace those we miss.
It is never, ever easy to lose someone. Although there are piles of greeting cards out there that try to capture in words a brief moment of comfort, they never discount the pain. The text quoted above doesn’t dismiss the pain, or say it doesn’t exist, it just reaches out and offers hope. In the middle of the pain, there is a glimmer of hope and that is what we need to hold on to. There is hope that because of Christ’s sacrifice there is the hope that once again we will hold our loved one’s in our arms. There will be a reunion and a happily ever after on the other side of the pain.
Talk with God about the places in your life that you need His comfort and presence.