I’ve been to two funerals in the past eight days.
The first was a man I met through having cancer myself. We were both diagnosed with lung cancer in our forties. We were both concerned for our wives and children. And we both trusted in Jesus for a hope beyond the grave.
My friend’s funeral was a testimony to his faith in God and his hope in resurrection. While the funeral was distinctively Christian, I got the impression that many present did not share my friend’s convictions. I didn’t really know anyone there, having only briefly met his wife on one occasion, but my heart longed for people to know the truth that gave my friend hope that death was not the victor.
Yesterday I attended a family funeral. Fiona’s uncle had passed away after cancer had overrun his body. He left behind a loving wife and daughter, adoring grandchildren, extended family, and many friends. It was a privilege to share in his farewell. Fiona and I came away wishing that we had known him more closely. We heard tributes to a devoted husband and grandfather, a wonderful educator, a hard working farmer, a wise confidant, and much more. We were reminded that he placed his trust in Jesus until his final breaths and that he was confident of being united Jesus in the life ahead.
Ecclesiastes tells us that…
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart. (7:2)
This is so true. Funerals focus us deeply on what matters really matter. Both these funerals were times of grieving and tears, but they were not without hope—real hope. They were coloured by the confidence that all is not lost, cancer has not won, death is not the end, and there is an awesome future for all who hope in Christ.
I came away from both funerals wanting everyone to take personally the news that each man went to their death with a strong hope beyond cure. This is far more than wishful thinking, more than a positive outlook to lift everyone’s spirits—it’s a confident hope based on the resurrection of Jesus.