I've had a few funerals to do recently. Just search the blog to find out why I think about doing funerals. It was while I was doing one particular funeral that I realised how empty some of the words I use each time might actually sound to those listening. You hope that the words bring comfort and a sense of hope without ever appearing to pass judgment. You hope that somehow you will be able to sow a seed of the gospel in to the lives of those who listen as you pray and reflect. Sometimes I probably do so more that I imagine.
But there's one phrase that I use every time that has been bothering me for sometime. It occurs early on at the very beginning of the funeral service.
We are here to renew our trust in God who has said: I will not fail you or desert you.
Personally, I find those words very challenging. If I'm honest I feel failed and deserted a lot of the time. I feel a sense of being abandoned by God, let down and insecure about almost every aspect of my life. I'm not depressed, and I'm not prone to depression. I'm just being honest. There has been little in my life recently that has given me any glimpse of God's enduring faithfulness in a tangible way. Prayers go seemingly unanswered, and I for one cannot figure out why God appears to say no to most of my prayers when I'm not actually asking for very much at all.
Is it just me? I don't think so.
Sometimes the Christian community is guilty of using language that suggests that we all get up in the morning and God speaks loudly and clearly into our lives, directing our decisions and choices. Most of the time this is simply not true. Most of the time we struggle to make sense of what we believe.
Perhaps the reason I need to say these words is to remind me that I do have to renew my trust and that life is far from simple and far from easy. Maybe faith has more to do with what is unseen than what is seen and verifiable.
The words are not empty, but they are not easy.