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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

At every funeral there are two, maybe three groups of people. The similarity of all these groups is sadness, with the most tears usually reserved for those who are closest to the one in the casket. Generally speaking you won’t notice a difference in any of the people on the outside. It’s what is on the inside that counts.

The defining characteristic of each person in the group, as well as the person in the casket isn’t about the things we can see with our senses. The defining characteristic for all of them is what is in the heart.

For those who are Christ-followers, those who have made a personal commitment to follow Him, those who have asked Him to forgive them of their sins, the grief is immense. But if the person who belonged to the body inside the casket is a Christ-follower as well, then they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as sure as they see the trees in the cemetery, that one day they will be reunited.

There’s a second group of people. Death scares them. Might also say it scares the hell out of them, but it doesn’t. Death, according to the human mind-set is the end. They see no hope beyond the grave, no healing beyond the casket, no life outside this world.

In order to appease their fear they’ve made up all sorts of stories to soothe themselves. Stories like, ‘there’s no hell, a loving God would never send someone to hell’; or ’There is no god. What we see is what we get. Death is the end all of end alls. (no wonder these people feel hopeless); or there is the ‘There are other ways to heaven besides Jesus. I know some good people who are (name your own religion). All sorts of stories. All sorts of excuses and explanations. Yet nothing that fills the void.

The third group of people is much like the second, yet they may struggle with the biggest problem of all, the problem of doubt. Some of these people have gone to church all their lives. They’ve been baptized and confirmed and gone to Bible College. They teach Sunday school and give generously to charities. Some are pastors or church leaders doing marvelous things to help others. Yet deep inside there’s the constant, nagging question of ‘what if?’

Funerals aren’t about the dead. They are a reality check for the living. They are more intense because in them we see the pain we ourselves suffer. The feelings are more intense at a funeral, but on a much lesser scale we feel the same pain when a relationship fails, we see ourselves getting older and our dreams for life growing fainter, we see friends leave us and the things we once held dear fade away with changing society.

Jesus didn’t come to give us comfort and protection from earthly pain; He came to give us peace in the midst of it. The peace the world gives will one day pass away. What lives on will be our faith in Christ, our hope in eternity with Him and those we love, and love. The love of God that nothing can separate us from. Nothing.

If you were sitting at the funeral of a dearly loved Christ-follower today, which group would you be in? Would you weep and cry because you miss this dear friend, but know you will be reunited someday? Would you wonder (or hope) that someday you will see them again? Will you suffer the anguish of your soul because you have no hope?

It’s easy to be in group one. Jesus longs to forgive you of your past and side by side with you along this journey we call life. He’s waiting for you now.

PRAYER: Dear God. I’ve heard about You. I confess I don’t know if I believe in You or not. But death scares me. Not knowing what lies beyond the grave haunts me, but my past haunts me more. I have nothing to offer you. I have no excuse. I only ask that you forgive me of my sin in the name of Jesus. Fill my life with the peace that you promised me so that whether I live or die I know my place is with you for eternity. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

(In honor of my Uncle Al (1928-2010) a man of faith, integrity, love for his family, generosity and a love for his Savior. Someday I will see you again.)

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