When I was 9, my family and I made the trek from New Mexico to Arkansas to bury my grandma.
This week, 23 years later, I made the trek from Tennessee to Arkansas to bury my grandpa.
Same family. Same town. Same reason.
I’ve attended a handful of funerals in my short 32 years so far, and I know there will be plenty more. As a pastor, I’ve done far more funerals than I’ve attended. I’ve buried people as young as premature babies all the way up to people in their 90s, and many ages in between. It’s always sobering and surreal – especially when you know the shell of the person in the box on the stage.
Christian funerals, although still sad, are always easier. The Bible says Christians “don’t mourn as those who have no hope.” But we still mourn. It’s still heavy. There’s still loss.
At my grandpa’s funeral, amidst the 21-gun salute, Taps, and words of hope spoken from Scripture, I still witnessed tears from hardened soldiers and all ages of family members and friends, hugs, and take-your-breath-away sobs. Although we know where he is, and although that shell in the open casket wasn’t really him, his absence is still a loss to all who knew him.
Whenever I’m in the presence of death, I’m reminded of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 7:2.
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. (ESV)
What is there to learn in the house of mourning? What can we take to heart? I can think of a few things…
Funerals have a way of reminding you of what matters in life.
Funerals bring people together.
Funerals give you a chance to step back, pause, and reflect.
Funerals remind us that life isn’t how God intended it to be.
Funerals are only an earthly thing!
One day, caskets, hearses, tomb stones, and tears themselves will be things of the past! Until then, like the Bible says, take this to heart…
Let the eulogy teach you of life’s fragility.
Let the hearse remind you of the curse.
Let the grave remind you of the God who conquered it.
Let the tears leave you anticipating the day when they will be wiped away forever.
Everyone dies. So live for what matters, be prepared for the inevitable, and make the most of every moment.