(names removed for privacy purposes)
Is it right to believe? Is it right to have faith?
These are questions that determine much of the outcome of our lives. The answer you give personally to that question will shape your future from this point on.
Several years ago, God in His grace and mercy poured out of His Spirit upon this family in a way that you had never experienced before. When that happened, a demarcation point was fixed in history. There was a life you had known before God poured out His Spirit on you, and there was life after God had poured out His Spirit.
In talking with different ones in your family and your church, what I heard most was about the joy that the Spirit brought into your lives. This was evident in ____’s life as much as in anyone else. Where beforehand there had been a struggle to serve Jesus, now there was a renewed passion: a passion for His Word, a passion to worship Him and love Him, and a passion for other people.
____, her family and many in her church were able to experience the joy which is inexpressible and full of God’s holy glory.
Today,____ is living in the fullness of that joy. Were she to speak with us, she would tell us that what she now knows and experiences is so much more than she ever knew was possible.
Yet, we are still here, living on an earth that has been marred by sin and corruption, a world that is filled with sickness and with death.
And I ask you again, is it right to believe?
I cannot with any good conscience look at you, (husband), and say that you believed God any less for your wife’s healing than anyone else I’ve known. I cannot look at you children and imagine that you loved and believed for your Mom any less than anyone else I’ve known.
I know from talking with you that ____ never stopped fighting.
There will be some who, playing the part of Job’s companions, choose to tell you that it was your faith that was imperfect in some way. I want to expose that for what it is: a lie and a distraction from the enemy. God made it abundantly clear that Job was a perfect man, upright in all his ways. The decision to allow his crops to be lost, his goods to be stolen and his children to die was made by God at the request of the satan, the accuser.
The accusation was twofold: “Job only serves you for what he can get out of you, and you, God, cannot get people to worship you simply for who you are.”
The belief that Job’s fear brought on his problems is the same exact view that his companions held, that Job had somehow caused his own pain. That view was condemned by God in the book’s opening statements. Job suffered in spite of being upright and perfect.
God, in His mercy, did not allow this trial and suffering to come to you years ago before you had experienced the fullness of His Spirit. But, nonetheless, He did allow it to come now.
Today, we stand here with many questions and an incomplete picture. We don’t see the future. We wonder how our hearts can ever recover from such loss.
And I ask you again, is it right to have faith in God?
Job answered the devil’s accusation against him and against God by refusing to curse God and die. Neither was he willing to admit that his faith had been imperfect.
____ never gave up her faith in God. To the very end of her earthly life, she trusted in the One that she now sees face to face.
In the future, maybe not too distant, you will be asked to pray for the sick. And God will heal them.
You will be called upon to encourage someone who struggles to believe, and you will see miracles change their lives and their circumstances.
And the accuser will say, “Where was God when you needed Him?”
The answer to that must be, “Right here. He has always been with me. He heard my prayers. He allowed pain into my world. He healed my heart. And He has made me to grow and prosper in ways I could not have imagined.”
And he was faithful to ____ to walk with her through the valley of the shadow of death and receive her into glory.
When you think of your wife, your mother, your sister and daughter, remember her joy and the way God filled her life to overflowing.
Today she stands as one of the great cloud of witnesses whose lives point to Jesus. Her message, their message is to never stop believing in God. To have faith in Him, not in our expectations, but in His goodness and His nature.
Our next action is to commit ____’s earthly body back to the earth from which it came. For the believer, even this is an act of faith, that one day the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible.
The Bible does not condemn your sorrow. But it does gives context that we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.
And the Man of many sorrows, the One who is acquainted with grief, is here with you now. He is ready to help you take the first step. He will be with you when you seem to be living in a dream. He will be with you when you wake up in pain. He will be with you when you wonder if you are allowed to experience joy again. He will bring joy back into the fullness that you need in order to heal. He will continue to walk with you every step of the way, because the same Savior that ____ sees for herself is the same Savior you trust by faith.
Let us pray.