Sometimes we desire to offer comfort to those that mourn and try to find the perfect thing to say. What we really want to do is make it all better. There often is no perfect thing to say, and sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. Job’s “friends” accused him of lying, concealing the truth, and having unconfessed sin in his life. But before all of that, the first thing they did was sit down with him in the ashes and rubble and for three days said nothing at all. Those were real friends.
Some Christians get the idea that happiness is the only mood we are supposed to express. God is good all the time, this world is not our home, Jesus is all we need. These are all great truths but that doesn’t mean we will not experience other emotions during this life here. Ecclesiastes teaches there is a time for every activity under heaven, including a time to laugh and a time to cry. After Jesus saw Martha, Mary, and all those with them weeping, John 11:35 says that Jesus wept. He knew ahead of time that Lazarus was dead and that he would be raised; he wept because he empathized with those weeping. Jesus also wept over Jerusalem, and at other times was angry. Revelation 21:4 says that God will wipe away every tear. We live in a broken world, and are surrounded by sin and death. There are times that mourning is called for, and no words can make everything better. Despite our eternal hope, it is not wrong to sometimes be sad.
I wrote a few years ago about mixed emotions. Sometimes we experience several emotions at once, and have trouble expressing how we feel. At a graduation or wedding we might laugh and cry at the same time. The death of one of God’s saints can also be bittersweet. While we may miss a dearly loved one, that person has left this world of pain and entered the presence of our Lord. It is a great thing when we can laugh at a funeral. When I was in the sixth grade one of our teachers died with cancer. One of the preachers blessed us by reading some of the papers written by students years earlier. She began her career teaching second graders, and we all know that kids say the darndest things. The church laughed together as we celebrated a life.
I just came from a memorial service held for a young church pastor. He was a gifted speaker that I got to know for only a short time. He recently lost his battle with bipolar type II disorder and ended his own life, at only 26 years of age. Without going into all the details, there is a lot to be sad about. Yet each speaker that got up recalled personal experiences that made us all laugh. He once deep fried a cheeseburger at the county fair. They played a video of him eating three whole jalapeno peppers (while dancing to All the Single Ladies). He was a remarkable student of scripture, and an incredible preacher in the pulpit. He encouraged everyone to spend time in the Word and he earnestly sought revival in our community. He took the things seriously that needed to be, and also loved life.
I hope when the time comes they will say that I loved the Lord, supported my community and cherished time spent with family. More than those things I hope they recall I loved life and enjoyed spreading smiles and laughter. Most of all I hope they laugh at my funeral. That is the legacy of a life well lived.