[This was shared during a memorial service earlier today.]
It’s no secret to say that the last sixteen years of A’s life have been marked by more than a fair share of chaos and uncertainty. But today, we trust that, A is at peace.
The peace to which the believer in Jesus aspires isn’t just escape from this world. To be eternally dead or eternally condemned for our sin will not bring human beings peace at the ends of their earthly lives.
For believers in Jesus, God grants a different, a better peace.
Christians believe that because they have trusted in Christ, their peace isn’t just rest from this world, but life with God, life as it is meant to be.
Christians believe that the God Who promises never to leave us nor forsake us has something even greater in store for those who trust in Him when we pass from this life.
Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord, promises those who believe in Him: “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3).
And then Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The rest from the chaos and uncertainty that the God we know in Jesus gives us then, isn’t simply a body decaying in a graveyard, removed from the turmoils of this world, but a new, revitalized life with God: A rest from worry, pain, disease, and conflicts. A life filled with joy and adventure lived out in direct intimacy with the God Who made us, Who brings forgiveness to the repentant and life everlasting to those with faith in Christ.
This has always been the hope of those wrestling with the sin and darkness of this world. In the Old Testament, we read the history of a man named Job. Everyone knew that Job was faithful. Even God bragged about Job’s faithfulness.
But then one day, the chaos, uncertainty, death, and grief of this fallen world were unleashed by Satan on Job in one grievous swoop.
All of his property and holdings were destroyed, his estate trashed.
All of Job’s children were killed.
Then, Job was afflicted with disease, his body covered in open sores.
Job wrestled to trust God in the midst of these experiences. So-called friends came to tell Job that God was punishing Job.
But Job knew better.
He knew that he trusted in the God of all creation and that the bad things that happen to us in this world don’t come to us from God; they come from the evil that’s been in this world since Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3).
He knew that when the world’s chaos and uncertainty engulf us in this world, the pain of that hasn’t come from God, but that it is only God Who can help us, that we need Him even more and we need to trust Him even more.
You need to know that too.
To all who wrestle with the evil of this world, Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
In whatever faces you in the days and years ahead, you can depend on God to be your strength, if you will dare to trust this God revealed to us all in Jesus Christ. When we, like Job, turn to God revealed in Jesus as we face life’s challenges, we can say: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.” (Psalm 28:7)
But we can say much more than that. With Job we can say: “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
Jesus, God in the flesh, once crucified, bearing the condemnation you and I deserve for our sin, has bought us out of our slavery to sin, death, and chaos, by dying in our places. And, just as Job had foreseen centuries before Jesus’ birth, Jesus has stood on this earth, alive, after He had died, Jesus rose again!
And, Job knew, Jesus would stand on this earth once again, to bring this fallen universe to an end, to raise the dead and to give eternal life with God to those who have trusted in Him and to grant sin, darkness, and death to those who, by their rejection of Christ, have sought those things.
Job could say, as all believers in Jesus can say: “...after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.”
This is the rest that God has in mind for us.
Beyond the gates of death in this world, He promises the joy of being totally and perfectly restored in the presence of the God Who loves us to all who believe in Jesus.
With our own eyes, we will see God.
I pray that today, by faith in Jesus, you will be comforted, that you will allow God’s healing to touch you and fill you.
The believer in Jesus knows the God Who stands with them, carries them, and empowers them through the dark passages of this life and the God Who will one day, welcome every believer in Jesus into His kingdom of peace, life, and forgiveness in eternity.
Jesus once said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Believe in Jesus today.
Trust that He can forgive your sins and make you new.
May Jesus and His promise to you of an everlasting place with Him be your strength and comfort today and all through your lives. Amen
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]