When I was growing up, I attended a small church with my family. The small church shared a pastor with another church. Sometimes when the pastor wasn’t there for the mid-week prayer service, those in attendance would recite a favorite text. Being somewhat of a smart alec, I thought it was amusing to say that my favorite verse was the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.”
I’m sure that you remember the story of Lazarus. When he became ill, his sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, the one you love is very sick.” Jesus chose to wait until Lazarus had died before he came. We read the story in John 11:33-35. “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.”
Let me ask you a question? Why did Jesus weep? Was it because of his love for Lazarus? He knew Lazarus would be alive in a few minutes. Jesus was crying because of the grief of his friends. Their sorrow moved him. Jesus is painfully aware of your suffering. He knows why we are here today. He knows that we are saying goodbye to someone we love. When we cry, He is aware. Psalms 56:8 tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
I want you to know that it is appropriate to grieve. Jesus understands our grief, and I believe that just as He cried at the tomb of Lazarus, He cries with us here today. But even as He grieves with us, Jesus holds out hope. When Martha confronted Jesus, telling Him that if He had been there, her brother would not have died; Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus holds out the same hope to us today.
Paul wrote some of the most comforting words found in the Bible in Romans 8:37-39. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I want you to know for sure today that nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing can keep God from loving you. Nothing can keep God from loving Kathy. I want to read that scripture again and personalize it for Kathy.
Kathy is more than a conqueror through Him who loved her. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate Kathy from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Kathy lived her life as a Christian. She was a believer. Jesus said in Mark 9:23, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” John 3:16 is probably the best-known verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And in verse 18 Jesus restates the importance of belief this way, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
But Kathy wasn’t just a believer; she was a doer. James 1:22 tells us to, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Kathy lived her life as a doer. She had many friends and considered it a ministry to send them all encouraging Christian themed cards and sharing books with them. She led a Bible study for older ladies at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. She took her children to church every week, and when she had grandchildren, she took those who lived close to her to church.
She befriended several older women in Irving and Mena and ran errands and showed Christ's love by spending time with them and taking them to appointments. She took care of her husband, Lloyd in their home through his battle with COPD until his death. A few years later she cared for her elderly mother until she died of cancer.
When she lived in Mena, my wife Gina and I spent a lot of time with her and her husband, Lloyd. We enjoyed spending the day with them and traveling to Jefferson, Texas to go antiquing and looking for old jars. We loved to play dominoes with them and spent many enjoyable evenings playing 42. Uncle Lloyd was a deep student of the Bible. He and I spent a lot of time in Bible discussions, and Kathy would join in with her thoughts and insights. She had strong beliefs and opinions and knew her Bible well.
I believe that in the final chapter of her life, Kathy could say with the Apostle Paul, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
And I’m sure that just like Job she could say, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27
Regardless of how deep our faith in God is, the death of a loved one makes each one of us feel the personal loss keenly. There is an aching void as we think of the one that we loved who is gone. We miss the companionship of our loved ones, and our grief is deeply personal. But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us the following promise. “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 And in Romans 15:4 we find one of the sources of comfort. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
During the sad times in our lives, like this occasion, we know that we can find hope and comfort in the Bible. Jesus knows that you are going through a difficult time. When your heart aches, so does His. But He wants you to know that even in times of sorrow, there is hope.
In Thessalonians 4: 13-18 The Bible tells us; "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”