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Pastor Bob Tousey

Baltimore, Maryland

Pastor Bob Tousey 410-940-4380

Formerly Christian Life Events Ministry

Baltimore, Maryland

Serving Christian Families Since 2001

Hope and Comfort

Pastor Bob Tousey

When you received the news that _________ had died. You were likely overwhelming sorrow and disappointment. You likely cried and really did not want to believe that God had called ______ home. As the reality began to set in there may have been silence as you attempted to understand the reality of what happened. Death is never a welcome visitor but as we know it is a visitor none us will escape. The good news is ______ is now at peace. For him there is no more suffering, no more pain and no words that mean good bye.

It is in moments like this that I have no answers, explanations, or understanding for myself or for you. And I will not pretend to have any. I don’t. It is in moments like this that I face the fact that death is an everyday reality. I know that in my head, but I have a hard time facing it when it intrudes into my life. None of us want to accept that reality. Today, however, will not let us escape the reality.

Today we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23). Today the familiarity, poetry, and beauty of the 23rd psalm have a different tone. The shadow is dark, and the valley is long and deep. The valley is real, and the shadow is here. That does not mean, however, that you and I are without hope.

Yes, the shadow of death is upon us today. But there is another reality, a greater reality. What is the one thing necessary for a shadow to exist? Light. There can be no shadow without light. And the darker the shadow, the brighter the light. Even when we don’t see it, the light accompanies us through the valley. It is already a present reality. It was there the day _____ left this life and it is here today. The shadow is not the ultimate reality. It is, rather, proof that the light is also here.

Today we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23). Today the familiarity, poetry, and beauty of the 23rd psalm have a different tone. The shadow is dark, and the valley is long and deep. The valley is real, and the shadow is here. That does not mean, however, that you and I are without hope.

Yes, the shadow of death is our reality today. But there is another reality, a greater reality. What is the one thing necessary for a shadow to exist? Light. There can be no shadow without light. And the darker the shadow, the brighter the light. Even when we don’t see it the light accompanies us through the valley. It is already a present reality. It was there the day _________ left this life and it is here today. The shadow is not the ultimate reality. It is, rather, proof that the light is also here.

That light does not undo what has happened or magically make everything better. And please don’t hear what I have just said as an answer or explanation. It is not. It’s a way forward. It’s our hope.

I promise you this, there will be moments when you catch glimpses of the light, and the day will come when the light pierces the shadow and eventually the light will be greater than the shadow. It is important to remember that the grief we feel today is because _____________ lived. We should focus on _____________ life and what a gift it was to us. We should be grateful for this gift.

The light has been with us from the beginning. It’s trustworthy. It never fades. And the shadow cannot overcome or extinguish it. The light is ________ life and the hope we feel come to us through the gift that Jesus is to us. I would now like to share with you what I believe is the most comforting and hopeful passage in all of scripture. It is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Verses 1-6. These are the words that Jesus spoke to His friends shortly before His earthly death and in these words, He makes three promises. These are promises of hope.

“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 hope and comfort.

First, we are taught 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? “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” He is here. He is present. Believe in Him - Trust in Him and God will grant you His perfect peace.

The second teaching 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 and hopeful 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.

Bottom of Form

The next message of hope and 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 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 a 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 Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am certain that as ____________ entered heaven’s gates he was greeted by a welcoming committee of those who went before him. It was a reunion of sorts and while you were not invited to this reunion, you each can have _____________ on your welcoming committee. Today is not good bye but simply until we meet again.

Two thousand years ago Peter gave some advice to his friends in Asia Minor. It is still good advice today and I would like to share it with you.

“And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy towards each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.”

We are now going to take a few moments to honor and remember ___________’s life, before we do, I would like to share with you a special poem entitled “The Dash” 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 Memories of the deceased’s life.

Insert Closing Poem.

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.

Today we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23). Today the familiarity, poetry, and beauty of the 23rd psalm have a different tone. The shadow is dark, and the valley is long and deep. The valley is real, and the shadow is here. That does not mean, however, that you and I are without hope.

Yes, the shadow of death is our reality today. But there is another reality, a greater reality. What is the one thing necessary for a shadow to exist? Light. There can be no shadow without light. And the darker the shadow, the brighter the light. Even when we don’t see it the light accompanies us through the valley. It is already a present reality. It was there the day _________ left this life and it is here today. The shadow is not the ultimate reality. It is, rather, proof that the light is also here.

That light does not undo what has happened or magically make everything better. And please don’t hear what I have just said as an answer or explanation. It is not. It’s a way forward. It’s our hope.

I promise you this, there will be moments when you catch glimpses of the light, and the day will come when the light pierces the shadow and eventually the light will be greater than the shadow. It is important to remember that the grief we feel today is because _____________ lived. We should focus on _____________ life and what a gift it was to us. We should be grateful for this gift.

The light has been with us from the beginning. It’s trustworthy. It never fades. And the shadow cannot overcome or extinguish it. The light is ________ life and the hope we feel come to us through the gift that Jesus is to us. I would now like to share with you what I believe is the most comforting and hopeful passage in all of scripture. It is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Verses 1-6. These are the words that Jesus spoke to His friends shortly before His earthly death and in these words, He makes three promises. These are promises of hope.

“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 hope and comfort.

First, we are taught 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? “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” He is here. He is present. Believe in Him - Trust in Him and God will grant you His perfect peace.

The second teaching 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 and hopeful 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.

Bottom of Form

The next message of hope and 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 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 a 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 Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am certain that as ____________ entered heaven’s gates he was greeted by a welcoming committee of those who went before him. It was a reunion of sorts and while you were not invited to this reunion, you each can have _____________ on your welcoming committee. Today is not good bye but simply until we meet again.

Two thousand years ago Peter gave some advice to his friends in Asia Minor. It is still good advice today and I would like to share it with you.

“And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy towards each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.”

We are now going to take a few moments to honor and remember ___________’s life, before we do, I would like to share with you a special poem entitled “The Dash” 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 Memories of the deceased’s life.

Insert Closing Poem.

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.