The shadow of death has hung heavy over not only our world this past week but also over our own church. Certainly many of us have been struck by the tragedy of the events unfolding in Japan. We are awed and amazed by the destruction of a 9.0 earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami and now each day seems darker as there continues to be profound nuclear fallout issues.
In our own church family this past week, the great-grandson (7 years old) of one of our members died of brain cancer, the 64 year old father of one of our youth died suddenly from a massive stroke and the 90 year old mom (former pastor’s wife) of one of our members died in the Philippines, which resulted in that member taking an emergency trip to the Philippines. Because of our relationship with the teen’s family, I was asked to have the memorial service for this 64 year old that had suddenly left this world. As I struggled to put together the memorial service for a man who gave no evidence in his life of having ever trusted Christ, I thought of those other two Pastors, who were also preparing funeral messages this week. As I thought of little Stephen’s family (the 7 year old), I remembered the hope that they had, even in the face of the deepest sorrow and pain. I thought of his mom and dad who love Jesus and had taught him to love Jesus. I thought of Jesus’ words in Mark’s gospel when his disciples tried to chase the children away from bothering Jesus. The Word says “But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “permit the children to come to me, do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these., Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all” (NASB, v. 14-15). What a comfort is found in these words. Jesus holds up to us children as examples of what saving faith should look like, simple faith believing in the promise of God.
I also thought of the pastor who was preparing Esther’s (our church member) mom’s funeral message. Her mom was a pastor’s wife serving in a very poor nation at a very difficult time. I am sure Esther’s mom wasn’t perfect (none of us are), but I am pretty sure that she had the same confidence Paul expressed in 2 Tim. 4:7 What a glorious thing it is when one of God’s children goes home into His presence. The Psalmist captures it in Psalm 116:15 What a beautiful gift to leave this life of pain or sorrow to enter into eternal bliss and receive the reward for faithful service. Hallelujah, what a Savior.
And then there was my week. Can I suggest to you that a few pastors had a simpler week than I did? Even in the face of the greatest of tragedies (the death of a small child), there is profound hope and comfort to know this is not the end. Where Jesus is there is hope. Contrast that with the greatest life lived without Jesus, well now that is a different story.
My friends, where is Jesus in your life today? I hope that in the midst of struggles and difficulties you have found the one who can and does meet the deepest needs of our souls. Jesus who is the bread of life and the living water invites us to be partakers of Him, so that we may live eternally with Him. If we know Jesus, what an incredible hope of glory we find in Him even in the midst of life’s storms.
To God be the Glory,