A blog by Josh Humbert
This is an ongoing series where I’ve asked trusted people who have served God faithfully to write about a Scripture passage that has been of great significance in their life. The simple idea behind a “Treasured Text” is for you to be able to hear stories from real people, doing real ministry, and the real truth God has shown them. My hope is that their stories and Scriptures will challenge, convict, encourage, and strengthen your faith.
This writing is from Scott Higginbotham. Scott is the pastor of Lexington Baptist Church in Corpus Christi. You can find him on FB (www.facebook.com/scottboy15) or follow him on Twitter (@Pastorscott15) and you will be glad you did. Scott has some wise and comforting words on grieving well. If you have lost someone recently, I pray Scott’s words help the grieving and healing along. Read and be blessed!
Grieving With A Great Hope
1 Corinthians 15:26 reads “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Until that day, when God removes the stain of death finally and fully from our world, we who live will necessarily struggle with that enemy. We will have to attend funerals and memorial services, there will be new gravestones and weeping people. Cheeks will be stained with running tears and wise friends will share comfort through hugs and condolence cards.
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” Even God-in-flesh undergoes the heavy emotional toll of the loss of a friend to the ultimate predator. Grief will be part of the human story as decay and tragedy rampages through creation.
When I come to a funeral service, I think about three things that help me in the grieving process for a brother or sister in the Lord. These three things help me to process my response to death and help me to grieve as one with a great hope. These three things come from Romans 6:3-11. Perhaps they will help you the next time you have to attend to the death of a friend or loved one.
First, I consider baptism. Did this person publicly confess Christ as Lord and Savior, and follow through with that act? If so, I have these good words from Romans 6:3-4:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
That public confession is a visual that sticks with those who have witnessed it. It’s a meaningful, powerful reminder without equal. Those who testify to having witnessed the baptism of the deceased person can say with hope, “I saw this person declare loudly that the hope of Jesus Christ was theirs!”
That’s good news for a sad day. Have you been baptized? Could a friend point to that public, symbolic, bold, loud witness that Jesus’ death counted for you? If not, what’s keeping you from the baptistery?
A Changed Life
Second, I consider evidence of a changed life. Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
It’s a wonderful moment when, at a funeral or a time of remembrance, when people can say that this man or this woman loved God and agreed with Him. His life demonstrated that allegiance. Her life was lived God-ward, and we can think back on these markers when we heard them pray, or saw them worship, or they spoke to us about the grace and mercy the Lord had on them. I think back to evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life that was lived to God by faith in His Son.
Third, I rejoice in the assured hope that anyone who has believed that Christ has taken away the penalty of sin by his substitutionary death has the promise of life everlasting: Romans 6:7-8 says, “For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” The passage goes on to assure our hearts of Christ’s final victory over the grave; He has tasted death and spit it back out!
We, who have joined ourselves to Christ in his death ‘must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11). What a magnificent truth!
When I see a Christian in a casket, I am reminded of my own mortality, but praise God! The hope they lived I also possess; the faith they walked is my own promise; and though death would mount a short offensive, it cannot claim victory.
Looking Forward, Looking Back
And so, I ask these questions of myself at every funeral for a Christian: “Will those who come later and see my body in this state rejoice in the testimony of my faith in Jesus? Will my life as it’s lived now give those who come on that day the wonderful joy of a transformed life?
“Oh, death, where is your victory?
Oh, death, where is your sting?”
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1Corinthians 15:55, 57)