The promise of resurrection


Mike Ruffin


Mike Ruffin
Religion Columnist

Friday, February 16, 2018

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him with my own eyes.” (Job 19:25-27)

I attended a funeral once that I shall never forget.

A member of my church lost his son. I hadn’t known him for very long, but I liked him and felt so sorry about the tragic circumstances in which he found himself.

What can you say to him? I couldn’t imagine the pain of his loss. Would I react with the strength and quality of faith that I saw in him if I ever found myself in the same situation?

It was a wonderful service. The family knew that their son had gone on to be with the Lord and desired to celebrate his entrance into heaven rather than mourn his untimely death. They asked those of us in attendance to join them in praise and worship.

To be honest, I was uncomfortable at first. I had never attended a funeral service that included praise and worship choruses. But, I realized as I warmed up to the idea that while our faith teaches us that we should rejoice over the security of knowing that heaven has welcomed its newest citizen, our culture insists that we should never celebrate. Instead, we are taught show nothing but sadness, out of respect for those who are mourning their loss.

Moved by the presence of the Lord and the peace that permeated the service, I forgot all about the sadness I had brought with me to the service. Instead, I found myself celebrating just as the family had requested.

Well that wasn’t the only surprise. My pastor had obviously wrestled with what to say to this family. The father was an ordained minister himself and only recently began attending our church. What words of comfort could possibly be offered that had not already crossed his mind?

He looked directly at the family and told them that he couldn’t remember speaking at a funeral service and using the 19th Chapter of Job. However, he explained to them that while he did not know why God had placed those verses in his heart, he was going to be obedient to the nudge that he felt.

He reminded us that Job had sustained an unbearable string of catastrophes. A life that was filled with prestige, possessions, and people, was assaulted on every side and stripped down to its foundation.

He explained that Job didn’t know about the conference between God and Satan and thought that it was God - not Satan - who had brought all these disasters upon him. So, there he stood at the brink of death and decay, boldly proclaiming that not only did he know that his “Redeemer lives”, but that he expected to see God and to do so in his own body.

Resurrection is very important to a grieving Christian family. Without it, there can be no eternal life. His message of hope was that a life built on God endures on both sides of the crystal sea.

Before the service ended, several members of the family stood to offer their thanks for many expressions of love and sympathy. I was touched by each, but it was the mother whose words I will remember.

She turned to my pastor and thanked him for being obedient to the Lord. Just a couple of weeks earlier, she had pondered the circumstances in which Job found himself and wondered how she would react if she ever lost a child. There she stood, now enduring tragedy that she never thought would come her way. She turned to my pastor and gave him - and the rest of us, too - a word of confirmation. “I know that my Redeemer lives,” she told us. “And I shall see him with my own eyes.”

I was floored. How did my pastor know? Did someone give him a hint, or was it really God who told him to look at Job 19?

Later, I found out that he had no knowledge about that mother’s experience. He was following God’s lead, not knowing where it would take him, or whether it would minister to the family.

Boy, did it ever minister to them AND and to me!

Write to Mike Ruffin at mike.ruffin@devotions.com. His website is devotions.com.