Summary: This is a sermon I wrote for my nephew’s funeral. Rate it if you want to but I am sharing it in part to offer an example of a funeral for a 10 year old. Also it is a tribute to my nephew. Hope you are blessed by it.
FUNERAL FOR JONAH DUECK
No one can imagine what it feels like for Richard and Connie to have watched Jonah pass away. None of us here, even if you have lost someone in a similar way, can empathize with their pain. I believe it is a personal pain that is unique to them. That does not stop us from loving them and offering ourselves today to share in the grieving and the comforting.
It is also appropriately human to ask questions at a time like this. We may wonder why a child like Jonah had to be trapped inside the condition of autism. Why would God allow such a disorder to imprison Jonah’s personality? How frustrating it must have been for Jonah to express himself. We may wonder why Connie and Richard were the parents given this burden to bear. Is God responsible for these things?
One comment I have heard a few times since Jonah’s death is that this is all for the best. Now he is free of autism, he is with Jesus, and he is with Grampa Peters. Yes this is all true. But then I have one question in response: For whom is Jonah’s death for the best?
Is it better for Richard and Connie? Despite the difficult time they have had in raising Jonah we have to look into their faces and see the grief and sadness they suffer. They are going to miss Jonah in ways we cannot understand.
Is it better for us? Let’s take a hard look at ourselves and consider this question. We have not walked in Connie’s shoes as she struggled to raise three children, two with autism. We have not come home like Richard from several days of trucking to support his family to try to enter into this world and be a dad. Is it easier now for us to be a part of their lives now that Jonah is in heaven?
Is it better for God? No it is not better for God to have Jonah in heaven with him and I will tell you why. By the grace of God and by ways we do not understand Jonah was a witness of the love of Jesus Christ. Now that he is gone we are poorer for it, though it is easy to say now. As long as we live we are testaments for God; we are living monuments to the greatness of God. And Jonah was included in that marvelous privilege.
When Richard first asked me to speak at Jonah’s funeral I was bewildered. But the Lord Jesus is good and he began to fill my thoughts with his thoughts. The Lord said, “His name is Jonah, preach from the book of the Bible called Jonah.” Preach about the grace of God.
Now is the time when the Veggie Tales theme song should play. “If you like to talk to tomatoes, if a squash can make you smile, if you like to waltz with potatoes up and down the produce aisle – Have we got a show for you!” Veggie Tales…Jonah loved Veggie Tales. If one thing settled him down it was talking vegetables.
After the Prophet Jonah’s rebellion and subsequent voyage in a large fish, God gave the rebel another chance to do as God commanded. Jonah was supposed to go to Nineveh to preach doom to the people there. Now Nineveh was a great enemy of Israel so on the one hand it didn’t make sense to Jonah to go and warn them about God’s judgment. Let it fall on the wicked – do it Lord. But on the other hand Jonah had the pleasure of telling these wicked people that God was going to destroy them.
The Prophet Jonah’s message was brief. He was a man of few words. He went about the city saying only this: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed.” That’s all he said.
Jonah Dueck was a boy of few words. Though he did make a great impression on people. Many of you have the teeth marks to prove it. Is God limited to our words to communicate his truth? Is God limited to our precise actions to communicate his truth? Or can God communicate the gospel in some way through a boy like Jonah?
He can and he does. Jonah’s life reminds us of some very important God-given truths.
1. God loved Jonah – People who are autistic live in a very different world than the rest of us. Many of us saw a news piece a few weeks back where a 13 year-old autistic girl spoke for the first time through a computer program. We had such hopes for Jonah that somehow he would be able to talk too through a similar program. If only we could bridge the gap. But you know, that’s our problem, not God’s. God loved Jonah as he was.