Funeral Service for Difficult Situations
Psalm 25:6-7, Psalm 33:5, Psalm 34:8, James 1:17,
John 3:16, Matthew 11:28-30
Sermon by Rick Crandall
*It's wonderful to be able to preach the funeral for dear saints of God who could echo Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Thankfully, the Lord has allowed me to preach many funerals like that.
*But there have also been times when there was no evidence the person was saved or strong evidence that the person was not saved. There are also many other difficult circumstances we may encounter. I have preached the funeral for a young man who was shot when he tried to steal drugs from his dealer. Another man was stabbed in a possible drug deal gone wrong. There have also been drug overdoses, suicides and accidents, including some gunshot deaths where the families suspected foul play.
The service below is a generic funeral for situations like that. (John Smith is a fictitious name.)
*On behalf of the family, I want to thank you for being here this afternoon. Thank you also for your many expressions of love and concern.
*We are gathered together in loving memory of John Smith. . .
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 23:1-6
*The death of someone we love is never easy. But gathered here today we can share our love and concern for each other. We can share memories of John. And we can look into God's Word for the comfort and guidance we need.
*At times like this, many people ask, "Why?" -- Why this sickness, this pain, this grief? -- Why did God let this happen? I want you to know that it's not wrong to ask why. I realized this a few years ago when I noticed that on the cross, Jesus asked, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?''
Jesus asked why, and He always did the right thing, so it's okay to ask why. But the problem is that many times we can't find the answer to that question. So a wise man once said that a better question is: "What now?" What should we do now? Let me urge you to stand on three eternal truths.
1. First: Stand on the truth that God is good.
*When bad things happen like this, sometimes we are tempted to blame God. But the Bible tells us not to make that mistake, because God is Light and God is Love.
*In Psalm 25, David said:
6. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses, For they have been from eternity past.
7. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness' sake, O Lord.
*Psalm 33:5 says that "the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." Psalm 34:8 urges us to "taste and see that the Lord is good," and "blessed is the man who trusts in him." In the New Testament, James 1:17 tells us that: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights." So, when you think of the good times and the good things about John, know that these came from God. Every bit of the good in our lives is ultimately a gift from God.
*God is good. -- But if that is true, why is there so much heartache in the world? The reason why is because the devil is real. He is the father of all evil. The Bible says that he comes to steal, kill and destroy. The devil tries to hurt us every way he can.
*But Jesus Christ came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free. One day God will wipe away all sickness, evil and pain. Then all who have trusted in the Lord Jesus will live together in total perfection, with no more sickness, no more pain, no sorrow, no sin, no shame, living forever in Heaven with Jesus Christ.
*Until that day, life can be extremely hard, but stand on the truth that God is good.
2. And stand on the truth that God loves you.
*In John 3:16, the Bible says: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
*When something terrible happens, it's easy to think that God doesn't love us. But He does love us. God the Father has shown it in many ways. But the greatest way was when He sent His Son Jesus to die in the cross for our sins.
*Romans 5:8 says that God showed his love "toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God doesn't love us because we are good. He loves us because He is good.
*And He loves us so much that He wants us to be part of His family. God wants to have a personal relationship with us. We see this truth many places in God's Word, such as the Lord's Prayer. There Jesus taught His followers to say, "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name." And that's the relationship the Heavenly Father wants to have with all of us. Anybody can have this relationship by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives.
*Nothing is more important, because we must get ready to leave this world. John went so much sooner than everyone expected. This reminds us how fragile life really is. We take it for granted, but every day is a gift from God.
*My wife's mother was 94 when she passed away last year, but my dad and my brother both died at the age of 55. I have preached the funeral for a six-year-old boy who died on the day after Christmas. His older brother had gotten a hunting knife as a Christmas present, and he was showing it to a friend. The six-year-old came running into the room, and jumped on the bed. Tragically, he fell on that knife, and it went into his heart. The doctor said he was probably dead by the time he hit the floor.
*I have also preached the funeral for a still-born girl. And I say all of this to say that we have no idea when we will leave this world. So we must be ready to go!
*John Hamby said this truth should cause us to examine our lives. And first we should take a look back: What has your life been up to this point? Are you satisfied with it in the face of eternity?
*But also take a look forward: What do you place your hope in for the future? Are you ready to leave this world? (1)
*There is only one way for us to get ready, and that is by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We must trust in Jesus who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, victorious over death forever. Trust in the Lord, and you will see God prove His love to you over and over again.
*Life can be extremely hard. But stand on the truth that God loves you.
3. And stand on the truth that God will help you.
*The Bible tells us that God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. And He will comfort us in our grief. In Matthew 11, Jesus said:
28. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
*Jesus Christ has the power to help us in this world, because after He returned to Heaven, the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to be here with us today. God's Word calls His Spirit the "Comforter," and over time, He will give us the comfort we need in life. The Bible promises that He will even give us the peace that passes understanding.
*I once read about a mother named Sue Heil. Her only child, Steven, graduated from high school one June morning, only to be killed in a car wreck that night. Just a few hours before the wreck, Sue had given thanks for Steven's life. And she asked God to keep taking care of him. How could God let this happen?
*In the days after Steven's death, Sue was often angry with God. Her pastor assured her that this was normal and urged her to keep praying. Sue was disappointed with God and she told Him, "You are supposed to be near the brokenhearted. Do you care?"
*Sue had lost her son, and she felt like she had lost her relationship with God too. But one day she got a card from a friend that said: "When God conceals His purposes, -- keep living on His promises."
*Sue said that it was as if God were saying to her, "Let go of your anger and trust me again. You do not know why things happen. But you do have my promise of eternal life." (2)
*Please take heart today in the words that helped Sue so much: "When God conceals His purposes, -- keep living on His promises."
*The next weeks and months will be some of the hardest in your life. But remember: God is good. God loves you. And He will help you.
CLOSING PRAYER (FRIENDS STAND)
GRAVESIDE John 14:1-6
(1) SermonCentral sermon "Funeral" by John Hamby - John 14:1-6
(2) THE UPPER ROOM, May/June 1997, p. 44 - Source: Dynamic Preaching sermon "Bound by a Promise" by King Duncan - Genesis 15:1-18 - Jan. Feb. Mar. 1998