Dealing with Death

I have a funeral to perform today.  As a pastor I have done enough funerals that I’m used to them and have a fairly standard approach to them.  Nevertheless, it is still a very exhausting day.  Usually I don’t get anything else done after the service.  Today the service is in the afternoon so I don’t know if that works to my advantage that I at least get the morning to work or if that extra work will end up hurting me by the end of the day.

A wise pastor gave me some good advice on funerals – present the gospel.  It doesn’t matter if the person went to church all of their life or if they never set foot inside, there is comfort in the life and resurrection of Jesus.  Of course I also don’t preach fluff.  I won’t pretend that someone who had no relationship with God is looking down from heaven waiting for everyone else to join them.  In such situations I don’t say anything about their destiny other than the choice I know they would make at that moment if they had it to do over again.

I’ve dealt with the death of a 22 year old killed in a car wreck, a 50 year old who drank himself to death, and a 80 something year old who died of old age.  The first was a Christian, the second definitely wasn’t, and the third only God knows for sure.  I’ve approached them all the same however.  God is in control and we never know when our end may come.  So we must be prepared at any moment.  There is no eleventh hour when we have no clue when midnight is.  Today is the day to repent because we have no clue what tomorrow holds.

When you deal with death so often in ministry there is a chance to grow callous to it.  In some ways you have to however because if you become emotionally distraught over every illness and death you won’t be able to function and do all of the other necessary work.  But some sicknesses and death definitely hit you harder than others.  There are people who you become close to and things are more personal than just church related.  Still, funerals are meant for the living, not for the dead.  They are meant to give but also should aim to make sense out of life in a time when life might not make much sense.  In times that life doesn’t make much sense, Christ makes a lot of sense and I aim to focus on Him.