There are times when a preacher is called up on to preach the truth of the Gospel while also desperately needing to hear that Good News himself. Brian Croft guest-posted the blog article (below) on the 9 Marks Blog today, sharing about a particularly difficult funeral he recently had to do. In the article, he shared about how he felt a uniquely heavy burden for that funeral, due to a number of factors (read the article to find out more). His story brought to mind the most difficult funeral I have had to preach–for a good friend, a former drug-dealer and addict, whom I had the distinct honour of discipling, marrying, and then, tragically, burying.
What made that a difficult funeral for me was not merely that I loved my friend dearly, but that he was so young in his faith in Christ and so much that had been wrong in his life was in the process of being healed. He was only just married the previous year. His step-son really needed the father influence my friend was providing. His new wife was also making new, great strides in her faith. A vast amount of pain and dysfunction was experiencing touches and beginnings of fresh healing and redemption as Jesus exerted His transforming power in their lives. And then all that seemed to be cut short–too short, too suddenly in a car accident.
I wrestled also with this because his funeral meant I had to return to the church and town I had only just left a few months earlier, under great conflict. I felt deeply inadequate, and intimidated stepping into that situation again. So with all this in my mind and weighing down my heart, I preached a Gospel message at my friend’s funeral. The Word of God had the effect that day of not only penetrating the hearts of some of my hearers with the news of hope in Jesus Christ, but also of comforting and restoring my own soul with the same Good News. If you can relate to the call to preach in turbulent waters, read Brian’s post below and take heart:
“So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told” (Acts 27:25 ESV).
I have easily done over 100 funerals in the last 10 years, but none quite as burdening and difficult as the funeral I preached on Tuesday. It was the funeral of a dear friend and faithful deacon in our congregation that had been killed in the head on collision on the 2nd St. Bridge last Friday. The funeral was in this man’s hometown about 3 hours from home.
As the funeral approached, nothing I tried lifted the burden. No matter how much I prayed or meditated on Scripture, the weight remained and it was to an intensity I cannot recall ever feeling. As I reflected afterwards, here are the factors that seemed to create this “perfect storm” of struggle that peaked at an unbearable level just a few minutes before the funeral began…