It has been a long time since I led in a funeral service. I did one this past weekend. Chee Man had fought a valiant battle with cancer. He had a family that did not falter in their support. No expenditure of time, energy, or money was withheld in their support of his battle. Chee Man had a loving wife and two beautiful young daughters. He had many reasons to fight against the darkness.
But the fight was over. His broken body lay in a casket. I was given the privilege to lead in the funeral services. So I stood before the people. I stood before the grieving family. I promised them that the real Chee Man was not lying in the casket. I told them that upon his death he had departed (2 Timothy 4:6) from this life and his destination was the God of life. Indeed he had to leave his mortal body behind so that he could inherit immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53-57). I promised them that the Almighty Himself would take care of Chee Man’s widow, and the two girls who had lost their father so early in life.
Was I a charlatan, albeit a well meaning one? Was I merely mouthing soothing words to give some comfort to deeply hurting people? What right had I to make such promises?
Because of Easter. Paul was perfectly clear about this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17-20:
and if Christ was not raised your faith has nothing to it and you are still in your old state of sin. It follows also that those who have died within Christ’s fellowship are utterly lost. If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all people are most to be pitied. But the truth is, Christ was raised to life–the firstfruits of the harvest of the dead. (REB)
Sometime early in his battle with cancer, Chee Man had embraced Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. In the midst of the storm he had discovered the True Pilot of his soul. And the Pilot had led Chee Man to Himself about a week before Easter. Perhaps He knew we might all need extra reassurance. And here it was. Chee Man died with Easter in plain sight. Jesus rose again. It is all true. Praise the Lord!! Praise the Lord!!