Earlier this week, my brother-in-law, who has been dealing with cancer for about a year and a half, asked me if I would officiate at his funeral. Hearing my brother-in-law’s request was a hard thing for me. And it will be even harder when the day of his funeral becomes a reality.
Sometimes in life, we have to do hard things. I know that many of you are dealing with very, very difficult situations. Some of you are dealing with a health diagnosis—either personally or for a loved one—that will not result in healing on this side of heaven. Some of you are experiencing brokenness in a relationship—like a friend, family or marriage relationship—which should be a source of support and enrichment. Some of you are struggling because of a personal brokenness—a bad habit that you cannot kick, and addiction that is eroding or destroying your life, or a burden of overwhelming guilt and shame over something that you have done—and you cannot see a pathway to healing and wholeness.
One of the leaders in the early church named Peter wrote these words of encouragement: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, … In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:3-7).
NHL hockey players train extensively year round and they practice intensely and play hard during the season for the hope of hoisting the Stanley Cup in victory after the last game of the playoffs. But each year the 690 plus NHL players do hard things knowing that only a small minority will experience success.
Followers of Jesus train extensively and do hard things throughout their lives with the sure and certain promise of the gift of resurrection life with Jesus. Peter describes it as an inheritance, a future gift that becomes a reality because of the death of the Giver. And the Bible tells us that not just a small minority, but “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved …(Mark 16:16a). So, with Jesus, we already know how our story will end. You, the very same person you are right now, will be raised from the dead to live with Jesus in a community of restored relationships with a new resurrection body that will never experience brokenness, internally or externally, again.
But it gets even better, for resurrection life with Jesus spills backwards from the future into the present. Because of Jesus, we experience in this life a foretaste of the healing and wholeness that will be ours in fullness on the day of resurrection. Jesus brings healing to your soul right now, and that healing permeates outward into your mind, body and relationships. Jesus, and the intimate relationship that we have with him, gives us strength to do the hard things that we need to do in life. So we do the hard things that need to be done, the hard things that will help others, the hard things that bless others and encourage others with the love of Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).
In Christ’s love,