Summary: This funeral sermon looks at things that we can be thankful for - even during a time of grief. We can be thankful for 1. Memories 2. Relationships 3. Eternal Life.
Giving Thanks Even At A Time Of Death
I would take nothing away from the grief we feel today. I would not say everything is all right. Because it is not. We hurt. And we know we will hurt for a long time, and our grief is a dark valley we have to trudge through before we feel all right again. God made us so that we can feel the pain of grief. He made us so that we can have a relationship with Him and one another. When that relationship is lost we feel pain. We pay the price of relationships and courageously we go on with relationships because they are worth it. Those of you here have lost a loved one - and it hurts.
I say to you, grieve. Grieve long and grieve deeply. Do not run from it. Do not treat your grief as if it were a stranger you can send away or deny it. Grieve what is lost. Grieve honestly. Grieve lovingly. Grieve patiently, until the cup is emptied. There is no other way back to wholeness but by facing what life brings.
Yet, I would like to speak a word of comfort. In Philippians chapter four we find these words.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB)
Let me be honest with you; reading, teaching and preaching the scripture is relatively easy. It is the application of scripture that is hard. When death has broken our family ties, the application of scripture is not so easy.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians from a prison cell, he told the Philippians not to worry about anything and to pray with thanksgiving. How in the world can we pray with thanksgiving today when _________ has died?
We are hurt and we are saddened. Yet I believe that there are things we can be thankful for – even on a day like today.
I. WE CAN BE THANKFUL FOR MEMORIES.
Man was created in the image of God. That means that mankind has intelligence, emotions, and will. But in addition to those qualities – we can also retrieve experiences from our minds. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?
I have often told families who have lost a loved one that funerals are bitter-sweet experiences. Bitter because they have lost a loved one. Sweet because it draws families together to share stories and memories.
Folks getting together and reminiscing about _________ is a good thing. There are times you will be weeping and there are times you will be laughing. That is good – that is part of the grieving process. Because God has given us to ability to remember we can be thankful.
II. WE CAN BE THANKFUL FOR RELATIONSHIPS.
God has created two institutions in this world – both of them are dependant upon relationships.
The first institution God created was the family. It started in Genesis chapter two when God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” It has never been good for people to be alone. We have always needed relationships. We have always needed one another.
The second institution God created was the church. It too is an institution based on relationships. When we have a relationship with Christ other relationships change. When we have a saving relationship with Christ other relationship are affected. Christ becomes our savior, God becomes our Father, and other Christians become our brothers and sisters. We become a spiritual family. Relationships are important.
You are here today because of your relationship with _________. Some of you are relatives – by birth or marriage. Some of you are friends. Many of you have known __________ for a long time. Relationships matter. They bring us together and we need to thank God for relationships.
III. WE CAN BE THANKFUL FOR ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST.
One of the best known scriptures in the Bible is John 3:16.
”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)
This passage of scripture speaks of eternal life in Christ. If we believe in Christ – He has promised us “everlasting life.” Isn’t that something to be thankful for? I really don’t know much about heaven. I only know what the scriptures reveal to me. I am a creature of this world just as you are. But I heard a story this week that may give us some insight into eternal life.
The story is about a man sitting in a boat enjoying a quiet afternoon. The boat was drifting and the little craft drifted to where the lake was only about four inches deep. There in a world of mud were some water beetles. One crawled up on a log and stuck the talons of his legs into the wood and seemed to die.