The Strength Of Christ: Despite All That Life Throws At Us

The following 'Funeral Service Sermon' is posted with family permission.  May the Lord give to the family of Myrtle Beaudoin, and all who mourn, comfort in their grief and a sure confidence in the Lord's loving care. 

Text: Philippians 4:10-13

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

I do not have to try and convince you that this life has its ups and downs. There are times when things go extremely well, and times when life seems to go very wrong. 

Even though I’ve only had the opportunity to know Myrtle for the last two and half years, these last two and a half years have seemed to include both ups and downs for her – good days and bad days.  I’ve mentioned to Steve that I’ve planned Myrtle’s funereal at least two times before when things were difficult for Myrtle.  However, as we all know, she bounced back from those difficult times.  She seemed to keep going and going and going, just like that Energizer Bunny, in those battery commercials on television many years ago.

And so, it is not by coincidence that Myrtle’s favorite verse in the Bible was from Philippians chapter 4,

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 

Now, keep in mind that the Apostle Paul did not say these words to be arrogant or apathetic as if he was boasting - I can do all things!  No, the Apostle Paul did not say these words as if he were trying to boast or claim to be some super Christian.  To say, “I can do all things,” is not a declaration of superiority or indestructibility.  But instead, the Apostle Paul said these words because he had learned the secret of life when facing the ups and the downs – the secret of knowing how to endure through the good times and especially the bad times. To say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” is to say that one knows how to get through all that life throws at us.

Myrtle, she understood this secret of life when facing the ups and downs. In other words, it was not uncommon for Myrtle to have a wonderful smile and hear the kind words, “I love you,” while she was sitting upright with a coffee and paper in her hands.  And it was not uncommon to have that same wonderful smile and the same kind words, “I love you,” come forth from Myrtle when she was lying sick in bed.

You see, the secret to say, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” is that this is not a statement of self-sufficiency. To say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” is not an arrogant boast during life’s trials. It is not a cocky or presumptuous attitude.  But rather, to say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” is a statement of assurance and confidence.  It is a statement that one can only make when their sufficiency is tied to something – or we could say - someone else. 

Assurance and confidence, and sufficiency can never be in our own abilities or accomplishments, for we are all mortal beings. But that does not mean that we cannot have assurance and confidence and sufficiency in someone else.  It is possible to be anchored in something, and Someone, bigger than ourselves in the midst of all the up and down waves of life that crash upon us. 

Think about this way for a moment; when you find yourself being brought low in life, you are still united with Christ through baptism. When you find yourself abounding with plenty, you are still united with Christ through baptism. And so, regardless of whether you are high or low, whether things are up or down, whether things go extremely well or very bad, you have the One who strengthens you – Christ - so that you can be content with whatever life brings.  To be baptized into Christ is to look at all that life brings and say, “I can do all things through the One who continually gives me strength - Christ!”  

Perhaps a very appropriate way to consider what the Apostle Paul is saying is to consider the image of a young girl placing her hand within the hand of a loving and strong father. When little girls walk on a dark path with scary noises in the trees, they can place their tender small hand in their father’s calloused hand and have confidence.  A father who is caring, strong, and protective will tightly hold his daughter’s hand, and she will have an assurance that she can do all things. Why would a little girl think otherwise, especially when her daddy is there to protect her and even give his life to keep her safe?

And so this illustration makes a great deal of sense when considering Myrtle.  When things were going well – during her last few years - she would say, “I love you.” And when things were difficult, she would say, “I love you.”  Regardless of the circumstances of life, those words were the same because she was always loved by Another (Christ). Why would they be any different for Myrtle? Why should they change depending on the circumstances of life when her hand was tucked into the powerful and tender nailed marked hands of Christ?  Christ was her strength in good times; Christ was her strength in bad times.

Even though we grieve the loss of Myrtle today, there is a remarkable comfort, confidence, and assurance that we have right now.  You see, we certainly should shed tears for the loss of Myrtle, for our tears at the death of a beloved sister in Christ are holy tears showing our love and compassion. And our tears are also an acknowledgment of the pain of death – that death is not the way things ought to be.  We were not created for death. And yet, amid our tears, we have abiding confidence – this secret – that whether things are good or bad in life that we belong to Another.  We belong to Jesus, just like Myrtle.

And belonging to Jesus not only means that we have an abiding confidence in the ups and downs of life, but we have assurance, comfort, and confidence when death does its worse.  We have Christ and Christ has us.  We have assurance, comfort, and confidence right here – and right now – that even though our beloved sister Myrtle has died that the nailed marked hands of Jesus will not let go of her in death. 

Remember what Jesus said about Myrtle? Jesus said that he gave her eternal life through baptism. Jesus said that she will never perish. Jesus said that she cannot be snatched out of his hand (See John 10:28). 

Dear friends, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall not be afraid, for Jesus - our Good Shepherd - walks at our side. His steadfast love never ceases.  His mercy never comes to an end.  In Christ, we never die, for the Lord holds us in death and promises us a sure and certain resurrection of our bodies on the last day. This includes our dear Myrtle, and you as well.

Soon we will travel to the graveside to lay Myrtle in a holy grave to await the resurrection of the body. And as we travel there together, we do so knowing that the One who strengthened Myrtle all the days of her life will give us strength to meet the upcoming days.

Yes, we can travel to the grave today knowing that the One who holds Myrtle holds us.  He will hold us until that great last day when we will all be resurrected to glory in Christ to see each other face-to-face and to bask in the glory of Christ Jesus - that Christ has made all things new.

Take comfort; Christ strengthens you.  Christ is your sufficiency.  Christ is your anchor in this life and into eternity. 

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean