6th March 2012

Saying Goodbye

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
Psalm 116:15 (NKJV)

We say, “Goodbye. See you next week….” And then we can’t. The person has died suddenly. I’m never sure which is kinder: a sudden death where the person really knows very little about what’s happening, or the lingering illness whereby the one ill knows the outcome and prepares. He can say “Goodbye”, but he has the trial of knowing about his impending death.

With a sudden death we are all robbed of saying “goodbye.” And saying “Goodbye” is important to human beings. It gives us closure; it seems to round out, to conclude in a proper fashion, our relations with the deceased. It’s a simple thing: goodbye is a contraction of “God be with thee.” And in the case of a Christian, we know that even in death God is with the individual.

Solomon tells us: “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” (Proverbs 14:32 KJV). And that’s the difference. Although we mourn a fallen comrade, a soldier in arms, a fellow Christian and member of the body of Christ, we know that actually he has passed from this life with its sorrows and shortcomings to life eternal, as promised to him by God himself (Romans 2:7).

As one door closes for a Christian, a new door, a better door we believe, opens. As the apostle Paul reassures us: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [margin: died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Christians have hope. For those without Christianity, those who believe that in this life only there is a future, death is a finality. Paul promises us that Christ has already conquered death by his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:54). When we believe in his resurrection in faith, we pass from death to life, from hopelessness to hope (2 Timothy 1:10).

So even though so often we can’t say “Goodbye”, we have confidence that in the life to come we will meet again those we now mourn, and we will renew our friendships and affections.

Our hope for the future is a powerful witness to those who have no hope. So actually our “Goodbyes” are always rather “’Till we meet again….”

Heavenly Father, we mourn the passing of a friend and colleague, but we rejoice in the life lived, exhibited, and in which our friend died. We know, dear Father, that now he rests with you, and he is safe until your Son returns and claims him as his own. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

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