In my life time, I have been to several funerals. Funerals for teenagers and young people that I grew up with, funerals for those who lost a long and difficult fight with cancer, and funerals for those who passed away after a long and successful life. Yet in all of these funerals there has always been one thing common to all: the deceased person was in heaven. There was doubting- we all knew that that person was now with God.
Of course I do not like funerals. However, every time I attend a funeral at my church I get a little excited to one day meet that person in heaven. As the soloist gets up and sings:
Just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven,
of touching a hand and finding it Gods
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial,
of waking up in Glory and finding it home.
I like to imagine what would it be like to wake up in heaven? To reach out and grab the very hand that was once nailed to an old rugged cross. What would that be like to awake and look into the eyes of Jesus?
The entire congregation stands and sings:
It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small,
when we see Christ
one glimpse of his dear face
all sorrow will erase,
so bravely run the race till we see Christ!
When I finish singing those words I can only encourage myself to keep at it. I then think of that dear person in heaven who is now cheering me on. The family and friends cry; however, they think ahead to the day when they will be able to join them in heaven.
Since I was a child, I have watched people go up to the family and remind them that now their loved one is in a better place. A place where there is no pain, no sorrow, and no cancer. I have listened while people told the family that now their father was looking down from heaven cheering them on. I listened intently as the church family encouraged them with so many verses of hope and encouragement.
However, a few weeks I attended another funeral. A funeral of a young man that I only had the opportunity to work with for a very short time. This funeral was so very different from the ones that I attended all of my life. In all funerals people grief and cry. However at this funeral the people cried a different cry, they grieved in a different way. You see these poor people cried and grieved without hope.
As I stood there I tried to comfort his sister (a co-worker of mine) but how? What do you say?
I stood there silently observing the grieving people all around me. The people were all so saddened- their loved one was gone- would they ever see him again?- what happened to him after he died? As I left the funeral home I was surprised to see a group of people outside of the funeral home drinking. That was their only consolation. They had to drink-they couldn't deal with life- they had no one to turn to- nothing but alcohol.
As I got in my vehicle and drove away I could only thank God that someday when I pass away, my funeral will be so different from the one I had just attended. Yes, there will be crying and grieving. Yet, the tears will be filled with hope. My loved ones will not have to wonder what happened to me. They will know for sure that I woke up in Glory, that I reached out and touch God.
Funerals are time filled with sadness- for both the saved and unsaved. However, the Christian's funeral is also a kind of "celebration"- the celebration of another one going Home.