Three funerals in two weeks was death overload. I told Sandy last Saturday that I’m rethinking our current strategy of attending the funerals of our friends’ parents who die. A lot of our friends are in their thirties, forties, and fifties. That makes their parents, well, nearing the end of the race. So it began three weeks ago when the father of our good friend Glenn Beiler died suddenly. We knew him, and of course we have been good friends with Glenn & Angela Beiler for a long time. They are real people—close friends. We should go down to the viewing to show support. Yeah, let’s do it. So we joined up with a carload of friends and traveled down to Paradise, PA, for the viewing, ate dinner with friends afterwards, and came back. Nine hours out of our day, some money spent, but what is time and money when you have such good friends to support?
A day after that, our friend Brendan Weaver’s mother had a stroke, and died the following Tuesday. Brendan and Heidi and their family have joined us here at Believers in Jesus Church, so it was fitting for us to travel to his mother’s funeral in Shippensburg, PA, on Saturday, November 2, 2019, with Stan & Sharon. We are glad we could see some of their world, meet more of their friends and family, and show support to them during this difficult season. Thirteen hours out of our day, some money spent, but what is time and money when you have such good friends to support?
The Friday before that funeral, Rose Hostetler, the mother of my sister-in-law Renita Rhodes, died. It had been a long, difficult struggle with cancer, and some time back Sandy and I told each other that if Rose dies, we want to go to the funeral in Ohio to support Rick & Renita. Besides, Sandy had lived in the same area as Rose and Richard and attended the same church for years. We knew her. So we left at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning and attended the funeral on Tuesday. Hearing Renita and Ravonne give reflections, listening to the sermon from Pastor Perry, watching the burial with the dirt filling the grave, the reality and intensity of death pounded in on every side. Jesus help us, and please help our friends and family as they deal with the loss of a dear wife, mother, and grandmother. Forty-three hours out of our week, some money spent, but what is time and money when you have such good family members and friends to support?
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:26. I was at a service a few weeks back when the preacher said that the last enemy that was destroyed was death. It was said in the context that God wants everyone everywhere to be healed, and death has been destroyed everywhere. He was a great preacher. I haven’t sat under such fiery Pentecostal yelling for a good while. But he messed up the verb tenses when he spoke about death being destroyed. Death has not yet been destroyed, at least not physical death. In heaven there “will be no more dying.” Uh, but we are not yet in heaven, and there is death and dying all around us. Brendan’s father had a moving tribute to his wife. At one point he said “I hear people saying that they don’t think we have a soul. Well, we ARE a soul, and this death that happened to my wife was just her body. Her soul lives on in eternity.” It will be a glorious day when death is destroyed.
I think of Hebrews 2: “You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus.”
Now we do not yet see all things put under him. That’s true. There is still death. We see Jesus, yes, but there is still this enemy of death. When I am around caskets and see the bodies and faces of people whose spirits have departed, something dissonant rattles in my bones. Ears ring after an explosion, right? Skin starts to itch when you hear someone talk of bedbugs. Similarly, my body and soul take a figurative step back and down when I come face-to-face with death.
But then something else rises up within me.
There is hope beyond the grave. The comforter has come, and even in the mourning He brings comfort.
Eternal life is real. I will stand on the powerful truth that all of the promises of God are yes, and amen.
And I’m hoping to take a bit of a break from funerals for a while.