Sharing Our Hope

This past Saturday, I had the difficult task of officiating a memorial service. Most of the time, I don’t mind funerals or memorial services. Although they are painful for the family for obvious reasons, it is part of life that we all should die. I believe that we have all discovered that everything comes to an end; even the best and healthiest people eventually run out of time. And except for a rare individual, here or there, most people feel like they “need” more time. However, what made this memorial service painful were two circumstances. 

  1. He was a good man. (Romans 5:6-8)

He was the type of individual that you really like. He was a military veteran serving in Vietnam and even returned for a second tour, which is rare. He was a volunteer firefighter, risking life and limb for his community. He loved nature and was avid in all respects of outdoor husbandry. He was a devoted father and husband. He was a really great all-around guy. Everyone who knew him loved him. However…

  1. He was not a Christ-follower. 

These memorials are tricky because it is difficult for me to interject hope into the situation. I can encourage the family to honor the memory of their loved one, but I can’t reassure them that they will see their loved one again. It reminds me of Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica. 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18 NASB20 – “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers [and sisters,] about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest [of mankind do,] who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose [from the dead,] so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. … 18 Therefore, comfort one another with these words.”

These words remind me that there are a lot of people in the world that have “no hope.” They have no comfort when death is standing at their door. When a loved one passes away, leaving them with a hollowness that is difficult to absorb. And it breaks my heart. The exact words that I use to comfort others are empty to those without the blood of Jesus. 

This hope is gained not in good deeds or earning the favor of those around us. We will never be ‘good enough,” but we are still covered because we are in Christ. It should also encourage us to have that hard conversation with someone because the “time is short” (1 Cor 7:29). We don’t know how much time any of us have. Still, it is better to give them hope now than to sit in their memorial service without hope.  

An old friend and mentor once told me a great way to visualize this is to imagine that everyone you meet is wearing drab gray prison clothes. They are locked away and without hope. There is no chance for parole, and their sentence is for “life.” But what if you could share with them the truth that there is hope and that there is someone who can commute their sentence? That someone can unlock their cell, and they can be free. Wouldn’t you want to share that hope?

It is also an excellent time to reflect that we do have hope; we have eternal hope. No matter how much time we have left on this earth, we will have far more time in the age to come. So we should genuinely live like that is our reality. It is hard for us to live with this as our mindset, but it is our reality. We used to live as if we had no hope, but we should now live differently regarding our eternal hope.  

Ephesians 2:12-13 NASB20 – “… [remember] that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the people of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who previously were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”