It has been a difficult year for our family and the Promotion To Glory of my sister, after a long illness, there was sadness and joy. Sadness, because she was a wonderful wife and mother who will be greatly missed, but joy knowing that she was now in eternity with her Lord and Savior and Friend. My Brother in-law who is a minister in his own right took the ceremony as he promised my sister. The strength shown by him, at a time of deep sorrow in his life, was also a testimony to his great faith in a Loving God. He titled His words for the ceremony “Not Happy God, We here at the ministry believe it may help other people deal with their grief and sadness too, so here it is: The Psalm used for this message was Psalm 22: Introduction–
Many of you probably wondered why in the world someone would choose such a Psalm to begin a Funeral Service.
A song of despair and hopelessness; A song of pain and suffering. In fact it is surprising that David, known as “A man after God’s own Heart” could pen such words.
Funeral services are supposed to be solemn and dignified occasions; “warm and fuzzy” services with barely a hint at the emotions and fears that are crowding our lives and minds at this time. But the truth is I am not feeling very warm and fuzzy, I am feeling very cold and very prickly.
I am angry, our children are despondent and our grandchildren are devastated; in the words of that very successful advertising slogan we are “Not Happy God”.
This is a negative Psalm, there is not a single warm and fuzzy word in it.
But what this Psalm does tell me is that when we experience these negative emotions. God can handle it, God can handle our doubts, He can handle our fears, He can help deal with anger and guilt and grief and loss
These negative emotions can destroy lives, break relationships apart and create schisms that may never heal. This afternoon I want to look quickly at just 3 of the emotions that will be threatening to control us over the days and weeks ahead.
These emotions are Anger, Guilt and loss.
Anger is often the first emotion to try to overtake us and probably the most dangerous. We often direct our anger at those closest to us, our family and friends
“That’s OK” says God “be angry at me. Don’t destroy yourself by harboring these feelings; Throw a tantrum and beat your fists on me; Don’t bottle up your anger and become embittered and alienate yourself from your friends and family; Scream and shout at me!”
Then there is the If onlys, the would have, could have, should have issues.
“If only I had done this”;
“It would have been better if I hadn’t said that”
“I wish that I could undo or unsay this”
These feelings of guilt are intensified because of the finality of the situation.
In Psalm 32 David describes the effects that guilt can have on a person
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Guilt over things that cannot be changed will not undo that which has been done and cannot do those things that could have been done. Guilt may be part of the process, but it must only be a part. It is something that will be there but we must guard against letting it control us
Finally there is loss.
For 42 years My wife and I had been together and I feel the loss of a very important part of who I was.
As I sat there nursing a cup of coffee, I thought to myself “How easy it would be to abandon myself to this sort of life. To sit and brood, to let myself be drawn into this maelstrom of self-pity.
To describe this feeling, David comes to the rescue again in Psalm 6.
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
Loss is probably the hardest of all the feelings because it will be with us for the rest of our lives. The pain will dull but it is going to take time to get used to not seeing her smiling face, or hearing her voice.
By now, many of you are probably asking
“Where is the message of comfort that is supposed to be the mainstay of a funeral sermon?”
The message of comfort is this – no matter how low we feel now, or the depth of sorrow to which we may sink in the weeks and months ahead, there is no-where and no-when that God will not be with us.
When each of our children got engaged we gave them a copy of “Footprints”.
If you did not recognize the words that opened this service, they came from the 22nd Psalm. The comfort comes from the experience of the Psalmist who tells us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. David, who put these negative words together, also gave us the very next Psalm, the 23rd; the one that we know so well. A Psalm of pure comfort. Where there was no comfort in Psalm 22, there is no negativity in Psalm 23
Will you join with me as we recite this beautiful poem
The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.
He guides me to rest in green pastures,
He leads me to streams of peaceful water,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his own name’s sake.
Even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil,
for He is with me;
His rod and staff, they give me comfort
He prepares a feast for me while my enemies watch on.
He anoints my head with oil and my cup overflows.
Surely His goodness and love will be with me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever
Great thanks to my brother-in-law Lindsay and his family for allowing us to use these wonder words from the celebration ceremony for my sister’s passing to Glory.
O F J.