Home > Funerals > The Things That Are Unseen. Funeral Sermon.

The Things That Are Unseen. Funeral Sermon.


In Memoriam + Lois B. Holmstrom

Blackburn-Giegrich Funeral Home

2 Corinthians 4:13-18 (Psalm 42, Isaiah 25:6-9, Luke 16:19-31)

August 22, 2015

“The Things that are Unseen”

Iesu Iuva

Beloved in Christ:

Bill,

Carol and Dale,

Joyce and Tom,

David, Jonathan, Eric, and Jennifer

All Lois’ friends and family,

Members of St. Peter Lutheran Church—

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God for our comfort this morning is found in all the readings from Scripture that we just heard, but we focus especially on these words from 2nd Corinthians:

”For this slight, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

 

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 the apostle writes, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) And in church before communion we sing: “It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all place give thanks to You, Holy Lord.” So perhaps strangely, though this is a day of grief and mourning, it is also a day of thanksgiving to God. Because it is God who gave you such a beloved wife, mother, and grandmother. It’s because she was such a good gift from God that it aches so much now that she is taken away for a little while.

So then let us give thanks to God for giving us Lois. For 85 years she was permitted to give and receive much good on earth. She was born on January 29, 1930, during the first winter of the great depression. By God’s grace she was brought by her parents to be received by Christ in Holy Baptism, to be washed in the bath of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. She was confirmed 13 years later, having been instructed in the chief parts of the Christian faith from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, and having confessed Christ before the gathered congregation. And nine years later, a little after Easter, she was joined in Holy Marriage to Bill Holmstrom, with whom she spend 63 years.

The Lord blessed them with two daughters. And we give thanks not only for the joy Lois was given when those daughters were born, but also for the lives of Carol and Joyce, whom Lois brought into this world and nurtured. You remember her as a devoted mother who stayed at home and was a good cook and seamstress. The world today doesn’t regard being a mother and a wife and taking care of the home as a great thing, but God looks at things differently. Through His apostle Paul He commends women who “marry, bear children, and manage their households” (1 Timothy 5:14). If only there were more women today who were able to devote their full strength to raising children and loving their husbands! Lois not only served the Lord in her calling as a mother and wife. She taught children God’s Word in Sunday School, was a member of the Ladies’ Aid at St. Peter. She faithfully attended the services of God’s house, and when infirmity made that impossible, she faithfully received Christ’s Word and His body and blood at home.

We give thanks to God for these things and for all the good God permitted Lois to give and receive in her life on earth. And now we commend to God the soul He created, which He gave to you and now He has taken away.

We have one other thing that we should mention in giving thanks for Lois. She also gave us an example of faithful endurance of suffering. The truth of the matter is that we don’t always feel like giving thanks to God in every circumstance, at all times and in all places. We often have the experience of the Psalmist in Psalm 42. Our soul thirsts for God, for the living God, and yet we seem only to receive tears to eat and drink: “My tears have been my food, day and night, while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’” God seems to be far away, and our soul is cast down and in turmoil within us.

Why do we feel this way? Because we suffer and God does not seem to deliver us. Lois experienced this. She bravely bore with a great deal of pain all the time I knew her. Sometimes I didn’t know what to say to her. She was a godly woman who read the Scripture and prayed, and yet it seemed during the time that I knew her that God didn’t give her much relief from her pain.

And our verse today from 2nd Corinthians says, “This slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17) But Lois’ affliction didn’t seem light and momentary. It seemed long and heavy. And it may be, in fact it probably is, that many of us here today have afflictions of one kind or another that do not seem slight or momentary. Even in the story Jesus tells in the Gospel, the poor man Lazarus suffers his entire life until he dies. How can Paul say that kind of suffering is slight or momentary?

Paul calls the suffering we endure in this life “slight and momentary” because he isn’t looking at the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. He’s looking at our present troubles through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus changes the frame in which we see our pain.

When we look at suffering apart from Jesus’ resurrection, it is overwhelming. Life is short, and so much of it seems to be taken up by trouble and pain. We say, “How long, Lord? I’m not going to live forever.” Lazarus spent his whole life on a sickbed, begging and barely receiving anything. What kind of life is that? When we are afflicted we see our lives the same way.

Paul wasn’t unfamiliar with that kind of pain. His missionary efforts didn’t result in great earthly success. He planted small congregations that had plenty of troubles, and his reward for it was beatings, imprisonments, riots, and finally death. If Paul looked at what was seen in his life, it would have seemed like his life as an apostle of Christ was a waste.

Btu Paul doesn’t look at the things that are seen. He has his eyes fixed on the resurrection of Jesus and the unseen blessings that are his as a result of the resurrection. He believes that Jesus has risen from the dead and says, “We also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also and bring us with you into His presence.” (2 Cor. 4:13-14)

 

Because we believe Jesus rose from the dead, we also believe that God will raise us and bring us into His presence. That is because Jesus, the Son of God, suffered and died for our sins. He was handed over for our sins, but was resurrected for our justification, that we might be declared righteous and free from all our sins. It’s as Isaiah prophesied—in His death and resurrection Christ the Lord swallowed up “the covering or the shroud that is cast over all peoples…[He has] swallowed up death forever.” (Is. 25:7-8) He destroyed our sin and death by His suffering and death, and when He was resurrected from the dead it was for us as well. His resurrection is the guarantee that God will resurrect those who belong to Jesus.

Viewed in this light, our affliction really is slight and momentary. We have pain while this life lasts. Some have more and some have less, but we all have it. But when we look not at the pain we see, but the resurrection and glorification of Jesus that we do not see, our suffering appears how it really is, slight and momentary. Because God has prepared for us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” After we have suffered a little while, we fall asleep. Then Christ will raise these bodies that have suffered in glory. They will share in the glory of God. God’s glory will shine from these bodies that have been subject to death. These eyes that have wept tears will see the face of God and be satisfied forever. Then we will see what is unseen, while now we can only look to what is unseen. Then we will see. And it will not be for a month, or a year, or even eighty years—it will be for eternity. “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

 

“It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’” (Is. 25:9) We will say “This is the Lord,” because we will see the face of Christ that was hidden from us when our souls were cast down within us. We will see Him, who we feared had abandoned us, and then we will be vindicated before a world that said to us, “where is your God?” (Psalm 42:10)

 

For Lois, that glory has already begun. She didn’t seek her good things in this life among the things that are seen; she sought them at the right hand of God, where Christ is seated. Like poor Lazarus, when she died, the angels carried her soul to rest with Father Abraham and all the saints who are reclining on Jesus’ breast. She is comforted. She had pain on earth but now she has eternal comfort. It begins now, but the day will come soon when we will see her comfort with our own eyes, on the day when Jesus returns to the earth with the sound of a trumpet and raises Lois and all the dead from their graves. Then this body that suffered will have every tear wiped away by God’s hand.

Why will this happen? Because Jesus Christ was crucified for her sins and yours. And Lois firmly believed that God raised Him from the dead. That was the guarantee that God will raise her also. Jesus’ death and resurrection was not for Himself but for us. He died to blot out our offenses before God and He was raised as the firstfruits, so that all who are in Him will follow where He has gone. Lois was in Christ. She was made a participant in His death and resurrection in her Baptism. She believed His Word. And she received the body and blood of Jesus that was given and shed for her.

Now as we go forth to commit her body to the earth, we go as those who have also been included in Christ. We too were baptized in His name. There Jesus promised that His death and resurrection apply to us. In His Word He declares Himself risen and promises us that He will raise our bodies also. And so we go to the grave not looking at the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. To our eyes, death seems to have the victory. But unseen, Jesus stands risen from the dead at the right hand of God. He is preparing a place for us there, an eternal place in the glory of God. That is what lies beyond this slight and momentary affliction. So testifies the Risen One, the Son of God.

Amen. The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria

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