Updated: Dec 21, 2020
There is nothing about our faith that makes us pain-proof. It does hurt. It does make us cry. And we must dry our eyes and continue our work until our time is finished (Jesse Jackson)
Two caskets sat side by side in the church sanctuary, surrounded by an array of beautiful flowers. A grave silence rested over the crowd. Family members and friends gathered to honor the memory of a husband and wife whose lives abruptly ended by a horrible tragedy. Late one night they had gotten into a terrible argument. In a fit of rage the husband grabbed his gun and fired two shots at his wife as she raced down the hallway for cover. She made it to their bedroom, grabbed a pistol, and fired back. In just a moment of time he lay dead on the living room floor. She sat alone in a state of anguish and despair, contemplating her next action. Not being able to face the pain and humiliation of what had happened – she ended her life with the same gun that ended her husband’s life.
When first approached about participating in the eulogy, I was terrified. What could I say that would help these hurting people find hope for their pain? The time had come for the service to begin. Even though I had spent much time seeking the Lord for what I should say, I was apprehensive about the message as I walked to the pulpit, “Today in the face of this tragedy we must remind ourselves that God is not the cause of human ill; He is the cure. Many will ask the question – why? Why did this horrible calamity happen? Why did God allow it? Today, the question that we should ask is not why. That answer, especially in light of these grim circumstances, is illusive and speculative, more confusing than enlightening.
The question we should ask instead is – what now? What now? My answer for that question may seem too simple when compared to the enormous pain you are feeling. It might even be viewed as trite and offensive, but the answer is Jesus! Where do we go from here? The answer – Jesus! How are we going to make it? Jesus! God is the only one capable of helping you through this.” Later at the graveside I said, “Paul tells us to hold tightly to some things and let other things go. Hold on to your faith in God, your love for these people and the memories you cherish. Let go of any resentment or anger you harbor. It will not help you. If you have any bitterness towards God for what happened, let it go. If you have any bitterness inside towards this couple, let it go. If you have any bitterness in your hearts towards one another, let it go.
Few people will ever go through this terrible ordeal, but all of us face things or develop habits that are harmful to our wellbeing. Paul said, “Put off … deceitful lusts (or desires) and put on … true righteousness….” Holy living is standard equipment for a believer. God’s power enables us to embrace the good. Wrongdoing is like an untreated cancer in our hearts – it spreads and becomes fatal. Embrace God, He is available to all who call on Him in time of need.