Today I did the funeral for a young man. He had been sick and disabled for most of his life. He left behind a widowed mother who had spent many years taking care of him. Now the focus of her life was gone. She was going to have to move as his income had helped meet expenses in the home. It seemed the whole situation was a tragedy on many levels. She was overwhelmed with sorrow upon sorrow. I couldn’t raise her son from the dead and return him to her full of life and strength. I gave her what I had. I gave her words of hope about Jesus.
In I Timothy 1:1 says, “Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope.” That is a wonderful name for Jesus, our hope. That is what He is. Without Jesus there is no hope. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no HOPE.” Those would be people who don’t have Jesus. Then Paul talked about the certain return of the Lord and concluded with this admonition, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” The words about Jesus are words of hope.
I said the death for a child of God is like playing peek-a-boo. We smile at our baby and then cover our face. The baby is mystified at the separation. But then we pull away the cover, say peek-a-boo and smile at him again. The baby laughs and smiles and is happy. Then we cover our face again and repeat the process. Every time the baby sees us come back he smiles with joy again. For those in heaven the time of being apart from us is without meaning for there is no time there. For a moment we are gone and then we are there and there is joy in the reunion. For us who remain the time is longer, but the joy of seeing that smiling face again of the one we love will likewise fill our hearts with joy. This is the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Death is defeated. Life is assured. Joy will come. Friends and loved ones will be reunited.
Charles Wesley sums up the whole thought in his hymn “If Death My Friend and Me Divide”:
If death my friend and me divide, Thou dost not, Lord, my sorrow chide,
or frown my tears to see; restrained from passionate excess, Thou bidst me mourn in calm distress for them that rest in Thee.
Pass a few fleeting moments more and death the blessing shall restore which death has snatched away;
for me Thou wilt the summons send, and give me back my parted friend in that eternal day.
Death is not the end. With those who have hope in Jesus Christ it is just a game of peek-a-boo that will bring joy when Christ’s face we clearly see.