They say there are two sides to every coin. Funerals are no exception. As I wrote in my last post, sometimes funerals are beautiful; they are moments suspended in time, complete with the idyllic blue sky and the telling of stories of a life well-lived over a gentle breeze.
And sometimes they aren’t as beautiful. Sometimes they are just plain hard. Funerals are hard because pain is hard. And death is fraught with pain. Mothers, Fathers, Children, Loved Ones. Gone from this world in an instant because death does not discriminate.
Death has a way of bringing out our deepest fears and strongest emotions. It can bring us to our knees or it can send fists swinging. Family ties can be strengthened or severed. Communities can be shaken to their core. Mass fatalities, natural disasters, terrorism. Accidents. Illness. Murder. All of it bringing us face-to-face with our mortality. The funeral itself can seem other-worldly, detached, rote. The flowers and the songs and the shiny cars pale in comparison to the heart-wrenching sobs of a young mother over her child.
Somehow, amidst the pain, amidst the tears, we find hope. We find it among the hugs of close friends and near strangers, we find it in the quiet moments spent at the cemetery, right after everyone leaves. Hands are placed on the casket, a final gesture of remembrance. A final good-bye. Hope is there as we drive away from the grave, it follows us home, it sits by us in our sleep and it wakes up with us, always there, always waiting for us to turn around and find it in the stillness. Hope remains alive as waves of grief threaten to overtake us in the days and weeks and years to come. Hope carries us through.
This world will bring pain. This world will bring trouble. This world will bring death. But I for one have hope in a Savior who has conquered this world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 (NIV)