I believe an area in our lives that we think and talk about least is this whole matter of visiting our loved ones, our brothers and sister in the Lord, who have been cast into bereavement. Particularly when they are mourning the passing of a loved one and we must visit them at the funeral home. This is a time for most of us that we find ourselves nervous and become shrouded with the feeling of inadequacy. We even tend to justify the whole matter by simply sending a “sympathy” card in order to avoid facing the issue. I’m sure we all experience this, laymen and clergy alike.
Now, the question is this. Why is this the case? Why do we feel so totally inadequate during this moment? Why is it that we breathe a sigh of relief when we find our way out as we hurriedly attest to our visit by signing our name to the registry on that shaky little stand with that dim little light? Why is it that we feel a sense of emptiness and helplessness after we performed what we thought to be our duty?
I believe the answer lies in the fact that we have not properly prepared ourselves spiritually for this moment. We have not spent a moment in prayer or have read an appropriate portion of scripture prior to leaving for the funeral home.
We have not prepared ourselves to offer a word of comfort because we first haven’t approached the source of all comfort, namely the word of God. This is proven often when we schedule our visit while the least amount of people would be there. Conversely, the Christian above all people should seize this as an opportunity in such a way that we are to be a blessing to ourselves. We above all people should not find ourselves a tongue-tied when we are called upon to speak of our only comfort in living and in dying that we indeed belong both body and soul to our faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. What an opportunity to speak of the comfort with the words of the apostle, “For me to die is gain – for to live is Christ.”
If we are really sensitive to this truth we should not find ourselves in difficulty but eager to speak of the hope that is within us. What an opportunity to speak of the resurrection when we profess to possess the resurrected life of Christ already in this life.
If we truly prepare for this moment of visitation, we will not only speak a word of comfort to the bereaved, but also we ourselves will receive a blessing because we have come with the word of God. We will then not only be reminded the brevity of life and its seriousness but also have a firmer grasp of the truth concerning the return of our Lord. Then we shall all be raised incorruptible. We shall see Jesus with new heavenly eyes as He really is in His resurrected body. Then we shall be like Him. The fact is that if we to be a comfort to one another, we must first be able to testify to possessing that same comfort.
Ask yourself – Do I really know that comfort? Do I really possess the resurrected life of Christ even now in principle? Do I really in principle look forward to Christ’s return when all things will be made new? There is more, of course, but that is the essence of the matter.
When we are able by God’s grace to answer these questions affirmatively, then we will find ourselves eager to comfort one another in our sorrow. Then we will hear the bereaved speak of that same comfort and the hope that is within them. It is only then that we realize more deeply that all things work together for our good, our only good, for us who love God because we are hidden in Christ.
So the, when we are confronted with this opportunity, we will find it is not only necessary but a tremendous calling to comfort one another as the Lord has comforted us. Prepare yourselves as only the child of God can as the fruit of His grace.
This is a serious matter but it should also be a matter of inner joy knowing that those we bring to the grace shall be raised again into newness of life in Christ unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What a beautiful prospect for the child of God and only for the child of God.