This week I had the sad honour of leading a funeral for a baptised child of God, aged seven. And for some of you, there would have been a point where maybe you had to explain death to your children, or to other young people. In these cases, we try to simplify it as much as we can to enable these young people and children to understand it.
But how do we explain the death of a child? What words, or turn of phrase, or nice things can we say that can help to explain the omnipotentcy of our God who we say is loving, kind, gracious and giving?
Children who die far before what any one of us might say is ‘their time’, it leaves us with a sense of unfulfilled potential. Through baptism, they belong to God, and while they might die young, they don’t miss out on a thing, because the fulness of all things is now available to them: eternity with God forever.
The one thing that a death of a child gives you though, is perspective. In working out what to say and share with the family all of the things that we busy ourselves with fall away, and we’re left with the foundation of what is truly important.
We often all say that we are busy, and we don’t have enough time, or money, or both to do all of the things that we need/want/decide to do – but when something like this happens, all of a sudden we have all the time in the world to be present for the family and friends at the death of one they loved.
I wonder how much of what really matters gets lost in the busyness of our lives each and every day? And is what we spend most of our minutes, hours and days on actually all that important?
Often one of the things we almost go out of our way to do at Christmas is to spend time with family and friends and others who we love. But why do we wait for this one time of the year, and not do it more often?
Because a good relationship is not built on a once-per-year visit. It is built on constant communication, frequent catch-ups, calls, visits and taking time out of what might the most busiest of schedules to spend with others. When we prioritise someone, we send them the message that they have value to us, above all of the other things that make demands on our time.
If you can manage to do it if things go pear-shaped, then I want to encourage you to think about how you might be able to do it right now.
Spend that time with the people you love, share with them, care for them, spend quality moments with them. Don’t wait until ‘later’ or ‘next Christmas’. But of most importance, especially within our own families – think about how you are sharing Jesus with them.
One of the great promises of Christmas is that Jesus came to us, he came to live, die, but then live again so that those who believe in Him can have eternal life.
When visiting believers in Christ in their last weeks or days or hours, the good news I can share with them is that “I will see them again”, maybe not this side of eternity – but through faith in Christ, one-day I will get to see them, and Jesus, face-to-face.
I pray that it gives them comfort and hope, and that you might also be able to share this comfort and hope with those you love.
In God’s peace,