Pastor Bob Tousey
Message of Comfort
In the Book of Ecclesiastes there is a passage which has become known as a time for everything. In those words, Solomon teaches us that life on this earth will not last forever there is a time to be born and I time to die. Sadly, for those left behind none of us will escape death but in a short while we will learn that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, earthly death is not the end and there is hope for a better place. We also learn that there is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Today is certainly your time to mourn. It is your day to shed tears, but it is also time for you to remember and honor _________ life. It’s with this recognition that I want to remind you that your pain today is there because God provided you with the gift of _______. As time progresses, I hope that you will remember the gift that ________ was to you and how much he added to your life. I urge you to remember the good times. It is my hope that while the memory of _________ certainly will, at times, bring a tear down your cheek, that more frequently ______ memory will trip a smile from your lips.
I would like to offer a prayer that reminds us of the gift that Jesus was to us.
Gracious God, in giving us Jesus, you have forever changed our human destiny. Through the birth of Jesus, the Christ, and His preaching and healing, you show us how to live as Your sons and daughters; by His death and resurrection, You breathe new hope within us, reconciling and renewing us. You heal us of our brokenness, so that alone, holy people, we may be a light to the nations, bringing Your peace to the world, preparing us for the return of Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
I now would like to speak a word of comfort today. It comes from the Gospel of John 14:1-6, these are the words that Jesus spoke to His friends shortly before His earthly death and in these words, He provides thoughts of comfort. Jesus said.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
From this passage of scripture, I find thoughts of comfort.
The first is that peace is promised. Notice the words “Let not you heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me”. Yes, I know that today is a day of sadness - a day of grief, a day of mourning, yet even during this you can have peace. Why? Because we have faith - we believe. We believe that even during the storm - even in the valley of the shadow of death there can be a peace that pass all understanding - because we know that God is with us. The 23rd Psalm says that too, doesn’t it? “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” He is here. He is present. Believe in Him - Trust in Him and God will grant you his perfect peace.
The second thought of comfort is that there is more than enough room for each of us in heaven. In other translations of the Gospel this passage talks of a mansion with many rooms. Therefore, we know that if we have accepted God’s gift of Jesus Christ, we do not have to be worried about being greeted with a “no vacancy sign” nor do we have to make a reservation because our reservation was made when Jesus died on the Cross.
We then learn that Jesus has prepared a place for us. Did you notice that Jesus, says; “I am going to prepare a place for you.” The verse tells us that Jesus has prepared a room for _______, a room for you - a room for me. Isn’t that a comforting thought? Jesus has prepared a place for us. Imagine this, we have the Son of God, who in his earthly life was a carpenter by trade, promising to prepare a special place just for us. Early in my career I would have tried to paint a picture of what _______’s new heavenly home is like but as I matured, I realized I am limited by earthly words and we all are limited by earthly imagination. We can’t possibly imagine the beauty and majesty of _______’ new home. The Christian band Mercy Me sings a song entitled “I can only Imagine”, the song begins with the lyrics “I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side, surrounded by your glory.” Then the lyrics take the shape of questions. Will I dance in your presence? Will I be in awe? Will I stand? Will I kneel? Will I sing? Will I even be able to speak at all? They take the form of questions because none of us can possibly imagine. But _________ no longer needs to imagine as he is surrounded by the glory of God and walking by His side. But for those of us who are still here there are however three things that we do know, there is no more suffering or pain and no words that mean goodbye. ________ is at peace and he will no longer have to say goodbye. Not ever again.
The next thought of comfort is that God has prepared a way for us to get there. Everyone wants to go to heaven, some just don’t know the way. But Jesus tells us in that, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life; no one comes to the Father, except through me.” We are all travelers on this journey called life. There are many detours and many side streets. We don’t need to be confused - we don’t need to be lost. All we need to do is follow Jesus. He will show us the way - in fact He is the way. He will lead us, and He will guide us. That’s comforting. This in my opinion the most comforting promise because it tells us that when everything is ready Jesus will come and take us there himself. I have had the honor to be with people during their final hours and it is not unusual for them to say, “it is time”, “I’m ready” or “they are here”. In the book “The Other Side of Suffering” the author writes of the death of his wife. She was in a coma, she opened her eyes and had a wondrous expression on her face as if she was seeing something magnificent. She then closed her eyes and died. I believe she opened her eyes to see our Savior. This story and my experiences are proof to me that Jesus keeps His promise. Because of this I am confident that _________ was not alone when he died, I am confident that he was in arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We should keep in mind the words of the late Billy Graham from several years ago when he said some day you will read that Billy Graham has died. Don’t believe it for at that moment I will be more alive than I have ever been. This teaches us that ________ is not dead, but he lives in eternity and is more alive than he was on this earth.
I would now like to share with you a poem entitled “The Dash”, it is written by Linda Ellis.
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say?
About how you spent your dash?
Insert message about the life of the deceased.
Insert appropriate poem
I now invite you to join me in praying with the words Jesus taught us.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thin is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.