Sooner or later, we all have loved ones to pass away. It is certainly an emotionally painful experience. The hardest moment of it all, however, has to be when we approach the graveside casket, for, in those moments, the sense of finality becomes reality.
My Dad died February 15, 1995. Two years after, I was still grieving his death. I decided to write him a letter, which I re-submit in this article. I wrote:
Though I know that time is no longer a concern to you, February marks two years since we left your body in that casket at the graveside there outside of Wardensville. I strain to keep from crying as I think on it, but only because I miss your physical presence. Mom and the brothers miss you, too.
I write this note to tell you how I appreciate the hope in Christ you continually manifested right up to the end. People back home still talk about how continually you manifested your hope in Christ.
If you remember, I visited you in the hospital two weeks before you died. You were experiencing a variety of physical complications. It was then I told you, “Dad, you did good. You were a good Dad.” I spoke specifically how the hope you had lit my personal path in life.
Yet, the last time I saw you there in the hospital, I believe you knew you were going to die. You exemplified such strong hope in Christ. Your countenance was confident. Unafraid.
That same hope I have held onto as I have stepped through the grief. From those moments, I have understood that the hope Jesus gives dissipates hopeless sorrow. The hope that Jesus gives maintains a comforting connection that Death otherwise breaks.
For, I know that Death has not disconnected us.
The hope that Jesus gives annexes our vitally different spheres, transcending and touching the time of my temporal with your timeless eternal. Even though you are not here, and I am not there, we are still connected through Christ.
I am so glad that Christ has brought victory to the human experience. The Master Physician gave Death a different diagnosis. The Master Carpenter re-constructed Death’s design. The Master Rabbi vitally re-interpreted Death’s dissertation. The Master of Parables gave the story of Death a happy ending.
Well, Dad, I’ll bring this note to a close. It is obvious that I cannot that I cannot mail this note to you. Can’t fax it, either.
But, I can offer it as an intercepted letter for others to read, and perhaps their hope in Christ will strengthen. Perhaps someone will read it and come to realize that Death is not the end of existence, that there is an Eternity in which to exist, and that Christ gives a sure hope for a Heavenly Eternity for all who will believe in Him.
I usually end my notes with “God bless you richly. But, I know He is doing just that.
See you someday soon, Ron.
Concerning Christian loved ones who had previously died, Apostle Paul said to the Christians of the church at Thessalonica that they should “…sorrow not, even as others which have no hope…Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”
We can approach the graveside casket of a Christian loved one with hope. We can leave it with hope, too. It is hope that does not necessarily mitigate the tears. But, it is hope that, oh, most certainly, helps the heart.
Remember the words of Jesus Christ, who plainly said, “If I live, you shall live also.”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.