The Saddest Part of Christian Funerals

November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the funeral of a well-loved elderly man from our church, there were relatively few tears shed for the dear departed. There was no doubt that many felt his loss, in particular his close family, but Christians grieve differently than others when fellow Christians die. We are comforted and even joyful knowing our loved one is in heaven and that we will see him or her again.

For me, the bulk of the sorrow came from the living. While catching up with people during the fellowship meal after the service, inevitably we talk about our trials. I learned from a friend that another couple we hadn’t seen in a while were divorcing. We learned about someone’s battle with cancer, and another’s loss of a job. We came to offer condolences to a grieving family, and found little need for that outside of our mere presence. We remembered a life lived for the Lord, and celebrated a soul graduated into His presence. Meanwhile, the ones who remain are the ones who need the hug and encouraging word.

Pain and grief is a post-Genesis 3 reality in this world. Still, we aren’t supposed to dread this life. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” is what the apostle Paul knew in Philippians 1:21. Christ meant everything to him in this world, and Paul expected that if he died, he would have even more. You can tell when you are at one of those funerals.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

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