Do you remember the movie, “Four Weddings & a Funeral”? Yeah, well neither do I. That’s not completely true; I remembered the name of the movie had something to do with a bunch of weddings and a funeral, but I didn’t remember the exact title, nor have I seen it. So why am I mentioning it? Because the past three weeks has been something like that movie.
On the day before Christmas eve, I helped family and friends say goodbye to Lina, a 93-year-old member of the church where I serve. Then, today, I did it again, and helped those who loved Murrell say goodbye to him — on what would have been his 93rd birthday. That’s two people, 186 years of life, and hundreds of memories.
In between, there were three other funerals, of folks ranging in age from 32 to 82. That’s five funerals in exactly three weeks. And, with a wedding I will be attending this weekend, it has almost felt as if I am living a movie — a difficult motion picture, where I have witnessed and shared more than enough grief and sadness.
Death is hard. Really hard. When you love someone, it’s hard to say goodbye. And sometimes, especially when it comes suddenly or way too soon, it feels downright impossible.
The only way – the Only Way – that we can get our arms around the gaping grief of losing someone we love is by remembering that there is A Set of Hands that are big enough — the Eternal Hands of Our Loving God. And when we hold the hand of God, we do so, not just for a season, or for a lifetime. But for Eternity.
Our hands grow weary, and eventually will go still – but the hands of God never grow tired. They never lose their strength. Not for a moment does Our God lose his ability to hold your hand in his great hands of love & comfort.
And here is why in your most difficult moments you can put your grief, and your life, into the hands of God – because He did not stay removed, withdrawn, isolated, in some heavenly dwelling. No, our God took on skin and bones, feet and hands, and walked among us, and loved among us.
In the person of Jesus, God touched the hurting and the heartbroken, bringing healing and hope. And then those same hands of love and compassion were nailed to a cross – the same hands that gave life to this world, went lifeless and dead.
And he did this, so that our broken, aching, sinful world could be made whole.
But that was not – is not – the end of the story. For on the third day, Jesus was raised from the dead, to life. And in the process, Jesus defeated all the evil and brokenness and sin in this world – including our biggest and greatest enemy; Death itself.
This is why we can trust the hands of God. This is why you can find hope and comfort and compassion in the hands of God; for he came, and he died, and he was raised to life. So that Death does not have the final say.
Our God does.
As I stood before the family and friends of the 32-year-old man who had died suddenly, I could not answer the biggest question that hung over them: Why? But I could point them to Who – the One who is present, even in our deepest and darkest grief and pain; to the One whose hands are big enough: today, tomorrow, and every day. For He is the one at life’s beginning, and He is the one at life’s end. And He is there for us every step in between.