In recent months I have seen a number of loved ones die as well as watched other friends struggle with what could be terminal illnesses. Even when death comes at an old age it is a sad thing. There will be no more conversations, shared memories or friendship, for spouses left behind loneliness becomes an enemy: a friend is gone and there is no denying the grief.
This is perhaps doubly so because we know that physical death only entered the world because of sin, along with illness, decay, and all the other suffering and sorrows experienced in this life. Every funeral is a reminder of Adam's sin and our own and its consequences.
Yet every funeral for a believer who has gone home to be with Jesus is a reminder of something else: We were made by Him, in His Image, to enjoy unending and unfractured relationship with Him and that is what lies on the other side of the thin veil that separates this world and the next. There is no greater joy that what we will experience when we look into the eyes of infinite love and grace when we see Jesus.
But not just for us. In Psalm 116:1 the Psalmist makes an amazing statement: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants." Why? because they have run the race and kept the faith, to quote Paul. And, because they will be complete in their fellowship with God for all eternity. The Image has been restored and along with it everything God made us to be - in His presence.
Every longing of our hearts on that day will be fulfilled in a way that we cannot even fathom. We will realize that for all our love of life, that this world is but a shadow of the one to come and we will emerge like through a deep cloud into complete beauty and clarity. We will finally be home: really, truly, completely home in every possible way. And we will have no end of time to mar the perfection we will experience in Him, in one another and in our own souls!
We know that Jesus shares in our grief when a loved one dies. He did with Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus and He shares all sorrows and comforts us in all pain. But we also know that even as He comforts us He is blessed every time one of His is finally and completely home. It is precious to Him because we are precious to Him and we were fully made for Him. In fact, He awaits each of our arrival in a heavenly kingdom that will never pass away and where we will realize how dark was the glass we saw through on this side of eternity.