Job 19:21 ff Psalm 121
1 Corinthians 15:50 ff John 5:24 ff
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We go through many, many trials and difficulties in our lives, not the least of which are those associated with this place and our Churchyard. It is with great sadness that we bury our dead often after they have suffered great pain. And at those times we look to each other for comfort and solace and that is right for we are to be here for each other in times of anguish. Poor old Job in our first reading had no such comfort. His so called friends were no comfort to him during his time of anguish. They told him that his suffering was his own fault, that he should suck it up and recognise that he was responsible for his ill-fate, and change his life even though he was a good man. It’s like telling someone dying of lung cancer that their suffering is because they were a lifelong smoker that doesn’t help at all, and it is not compassionate either, but that’s the kind of thing that Job faced. He rose above it saying he had faith that whatever happens, whatever the cause God was his Protector and Redeemer. And he was so convinced of it that he wanted that message, his words, incised in stone and leaded in place for posterity. So much for friends and the comfort they bring some times, but in times of trial we have to trust our beliefs for it is those beliefs that will bring us through the dark valley.
The Psalmist knows all about the dark valley too, no doubt he had been let down by his friends he says “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from where will my help come ?” Perhaps looking for those friends; none came. And then he answered his own question “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth”. The Psalmist knows that when friends let you down, the Lord is the one who never lets you down. That is the same conclusion Job arrived at. Perhaps we should do the same. Is our God reliable though, will God be there for us in our time of need ? Emphatically Yes ! The writer of the Psalm derides the Sun gods worshipped by the other nations of his time. He says those gods go to sleep at the setting of the Sun, and wake-up in the morning; our God is a twenty/four, seven God not a false part-time deity, our God neither slumbers nor sleeps: God is our comfort and strength all the livelong day.
But then we have to get over the hurdle that God’s help seems not to come when we need it most. Paul reminds us that we are mortal, our bodies are mortal, and like every other organism or machine we eventually run down. Machines make bad noises when they run down so do we, as we try and overcome the rust in our systems. Trees decay before they fall, rivers and lakes silt up, mountains are worn down by snow, ice, wind and rain. It’s Nature, it’s our Fallen Nature, which arrived on the coat tails of Sin way back in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden there was no Sin therefore there was no Death nor Decay. But Sin entered that world enabled by our inquisitive minds, because of that we had to leave Paradise, and so we suffer the cycle of birth and death.
But the God who stays awake 24/7 knows we need saving from the plight we brought upon ourselves. God lets us learn life lessons, which lessons replace inquisitiveness with certainty and reliance on Him, which was the very thing we hid from and walked away from in the Garden. We are all at the time in our lives when we need to reacquaint ourselves with God, on a massive scale. God knows both our plight and that we cannot get ourselves out of it but first we have to respond to Him. When someone gives you a hand you need to know who it is. And what it’s going to cost you ! Get to know God it will only cost you your doubts and your fears.
The transformation from believer to committed believer is freeing, much like the transformation from Death to Life. It’s what Job felt when he set aside his friend’s nagging and accepted that God was present in his life and was acting in his best interests and was his Redeemer from all that assailed him. In this transformation not only do we get new spiritual bodies but our spirits are renewed too, we are cleaned-up real good for an eternity of perfection but we need belief to start with. Now you can’t just order-up belief the way you would a pizza, it takes a bit of work: that is study, which is reading and understanding what is read. When you do that with God’s insight you will believe, and then you are equipped for eternal life.
Our family members and friends who lie in their graves here, have gone through this transformation. At present they rest but there will come a day when Jesus’ voice will raise them from their slumber and bring them out of their graves to receive God’s final and everlasting blessing. As believers they will wake to the Resurrection of Life. We pray that we will follow them in due time. How can this be possible ? It’s almost unbelievable ! But life itself is unbelievable except for the fact that we live it. When you make something, you don’t destroy it, you keep it, use it, enjoy it: same with God. God created all the things you see, and all you don’t see. You can’t see life, it’s like the wind, you can’t see it but you experience it and its effects. Having created the life we enjoy, God will not let it end with our death, His Plan is quite a bit bigger than that. When our rusty frames have broken down God has the power to renew them. His vision encompasses all Creation one day living in harmony again, that can only happen when the imperfections are gone and only perfection remains. All of that is what brings us here today because we know Death has no victory over us and never did. Amen.