Some of the most difficult yet most inspiring times of worship occur during funerals. The raw emotions of grief over separation are mixed with a sense of hope and eternal perspective.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
In our fast-paced culture, funerals give us the rare occasion to reflect on the brevity of life, the reminder that our days on earth are numbered. There is a sense of “coming to terms” with reality that our life on this earth will end. As Christians, we find assurance in the promise of God’s Word that the Lord Jesus did die for the remission of our sins and rose again with the invitation to live forever through Him and with Him.
Hymns of worship can be the most encouraging aspect of a funeral service or a time of intense grief. Silence can be powerful and stillness consoling. Yet when a hymn begins to be sung in our hearts, we can feel something change in the air. Timely words “sung” at the right moment can bring a wave of comfort and release God’s faithful presence.
My Faith Looks Up to Thee, I Know Whom I Have Believed and Sweet By and By:
These are just a few of the hymns that have served the moment and brought hope to those who have been separated from their loved ones. Oftentimes we are not sure how to bring comfort in situations where someone is fighting an illness or recovering in some way, but we thank God that the Bible is replete with passages that exemplify praise in the midst of pain and promises of joy as we walk through profound sorrow.
Psalm 42:5-6a Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 23:4-6 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. … my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Shortly before a savaged gunman murdered her, Virginia Tech student Lauren McCain wrote in her diary, Show me Your purpose for me at Tech and on this earth, but if You choose not to, I will still praise You and walk where You lead, not because I am selfless or holy or determined to sacrifice myself for what is right but because You are the delight of my heart and I cannot live without You.
Lord, give to us all that same heart as we seek to comfort others in their time of mourning, for one day, we will wish for someone to help us worship in the midst of our sorrow.
Ps Peter Goh