Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Season of Loss

Since the first of December, we have recorded in our bulletin and on the newsline close to twenty deaths of loved ones to our members. Today we received word of two more. A dear friend told me Wednesday night that he and his wife had attended the funerals of fifteen friends and family members in the last few weeks. I cannot recall in nearly forty years of ministry such a season.

As I reflect on this season, I am reminded of our common mortality. Death has indeed passed on to us all. We must all walk that singular path. It would be foolish indeed for us to waste our lives and not prepare for the journey. What we shall find at the end depends on whether we are prepared (Matthew 25:1-13).

Some are easier to bury than others. It is easy to remember the good and loving, when people have lived that way. I have been so thankful to have known so many good people, and their loss is deeply felt. When a righteous and faithful person passes, we cannot mourn for the future of that person. We rightfully mourn, but we mourn for our loss not their gain. To die is gain for them (Phil. 1:23). We could not but for our own sake wish them back. We take hope in where they are now and thank God for His immeasurable grace.

It was said of wicked king Jehoram that he died at age 32 with no one's regret (2 Chron. 21:20). Most of the folks I know are not such people.

Mourning our own teaches us compassion for others who have suffered loss.

Mourning teaches us that our lives matter. Mourning reminds us there is a limit to our time on earth, and we must make the most of it (Eph. 5:15-17).

Mourning reminds us of our accountability to the Lord. We are not our own; we belong to Him. He will reward each of us according to our deeds.

As we begin the new year, let us think of what record we are making for ourselves. Let us make it for good and for the Lord. Let us draw near to the throne of grace and live as saved people who have a hope.

kindly and thoughtfully,
Phil

1 comment:

Terry said...

Phil,
Those were powerful words of wisdom. I'm sad to hear about all the losses among your friends lately, but I hope that they will be comforted by God.

Your post reminded me of one of the phrases our preacher sometimes says: "Don't make the preacher lie about you at your funeral." (He does not lie, but you get the message.) I don't know how ministers can handle conducting funerals for people who have lived their lives without Christ. It's hard enough for those of us who do not have to speak publicly on such occassions. The pain is beyond words.

Thanks for the good reminder of what is most important in life.