– John R. Rice
It’s not Goodbye, but see you Later
When a believer in Christ dies, they are not dead, they’re just not here. Jesus reminds all of us who have lost loved ones in Christ that God “is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him” (Luke 20:38). It’s best that we speak of the departed saints in the present tense and not in past tense, because for believers, it’s not “goodbye,” but “See you later.”
At one funeral a few years ago that I was presiding over it occurred to me that this isn’t really burial ground, but resurrection ground. That is, they are not really there. They are with the Lord, just as Paul said to “be away from the body and at home with the Lord” 2nd Cor 5:8). The body that is laid to rest is an empty case because they are not dead…and they are not there in the coffin. They are beholding the face of Jesus Christ. Can you even imagine that!
When we lose a loved one in Christ, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, because He is “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). That’s what we need to do when we lose a loved one. Think of the joy that’s ahead of us, but already realized by the believer who already passed into glory.
Mr. Rice is exactly right in saying, “We’ll say good night here, and good morning up there.” It’s not goodbye, but see you later; it’s not burial ground but resurrection ground; and the joy that’s ahead of us cannot even be described by mere words.