Something Serious to Ponder

Carl Trueman has written a thought provoking essay for First Things. In this article, he challenges the growing approach to funerals as “celebrations of life.” You can read it HERE and I encourage you to do so. Like him, I’ve often found the trivializing of death- that is often evidenced in such an approach- disturbing. Our culture has a hard time dealing with death. Christians, on the other hand, have the resources to face it and to grapple with grief in the death of loved ones through the gospel.

Let us not forget that Jesus wept beside the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). Even though He fully intended to raise Lazarus from the dead to demonstrate His authority over death, he still wept. Why? He saw the devastation that death brings. He, along with Mary and Martha, grieved at the loss.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church to help them think rightly about death. We read these words in I Thessalonians 4:13  But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope (ESV). Paul doesn’t say Christians don’t grieve at all. No, he says that they don’t grieve as those who have no hope. There’s a critically important distinction. Ours is grief and sadness that is tinged with hope- the hope of the resurrection.

Death is a sad, sad reality. It is our final foe. Because of the work of Jesus to trample death, we don’t have to face it with paralyzing fear. For the Christian, death is a door. I think Carl Trueman is on to something as he critiques our culture and its inability to look death in the face. It’s ok for us not to accept death as an excuse to party. It’s ok to be sad at funerals. Thanks be to God that through the good news of the gospel “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)