I have been to three funerals in the last four weeks: one in Pueblo for my secretary’s father, another for a member of our church whose daughter lost the battle to cancer, and another who was a believer of 90 years old! In all instances, family members and friends from all walks of life travelling from both near and far to attend. Every one of them felt not just obligated but compelled to come and be a part. Each understands the importance of attending, even if we are not able to fully articulate why.
In the past, I have blogged on giving practical tips to preaching a funeral. Here, I wish to show why we should attend the funeral of friends, family, and even acquaintances.
First, your presence speaks volumes. At the end of Job 2, after Job had lost his offspring, his property, his livestock, and his health—leaving him in the valley—his friends came and sat with him for seven days. Notice they only ‘sat with him.’ In times of grief like this, simply sitting and listening to the grief-stricken individual speaks volumes!
Secondly, a funeral provides more details into the life of the one who recently died. By details, I do not mean mere information. I mean, you see the relationships developed during the course of the deceased’s life. These pieces of the puzzle come together to bring the whole picture into brighter clarity. And it also helps see the relationships in which the deceased invested, and those who invested in him.
Thirdly, God will use you as a follower of Christ to be the presence of Christ in that dark time. Jesus grieved when confronted by death. The shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), took place in the context of arriving at the tomb of his beloved friend, Lazarus! He wept over the effects of sin that had tortured His created imagebearers! Whether we realize it or not, this is a part of why we grieve—as evident in questions often asked: “Why was he/she taken?” “Why do people have to die?” Questions abound, with the only answers that may be provided are ones that connect with the greater purposes of Heaven.
Scripture makes it clear that “it is destined for man to die once, and after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:22). We will die, believer or non-believer—and death entered into the world as a result of our desire to be our own god rather than surrender to the true and living God (Genesis 3:1-8). Our desire to know good and evil brought into the world the utmost result of evil—death, the wages of our sin (Romans 6:23).
Funerals are opportunities to answer these questions as one’s own mortality is staring them in the face.
Lastly, funerals put those left behind on your radar to provide further comfort after the funeral is over and after family and friends have disbursed. The weeks after the funeral can be torture. You begin realizing that the family member or loved one is really gone. You have to deal with estate issues and other paperwork. You begin going through their affects, bringing up memories that bring with them the corresponding emotions. So going to the funeral is important—following up in the weeks and months after is absolutely critical!
We know that for the follower of Christ, death will one day be no more (Revelation 21:1-4). In the meantime, dying is a part of living here on this earth. Be there for them in the name of Christ, especially during this time of bereavement.