By Juan Sanchez
On September 14, I preached my dad’s funeral. He’d been sick since March, and a couple of months ago, the doctors decided to stop all treatment because the medication was doing more harm than good.
With my wife’s encouragement, I took some time away from pastoral ministry and spent a few days with him before he passed.
Because of his faith, the greatest lesson he left me with was how to die well. As he faced his death with hope, it allowed us to grieve with hope.
When dad breathed his last breath on September 6, I happened to be in Medellin, Colombia preaching at a conference.
The next day, I was assigned to preach Daniel 12. As I worked through the text, I couldn’t help but think about how it applied to my dad, and I was oddly encouraged.
So, that’s the text I preached at his funeral. Allow me to share with you the hope and encouragement I found in Daniel 12. May it also help you encourage others to grieve with hope.
Daniel 12:1-4 | A Picture of the End
Throughout Daniel 7-12, the Lord allowed Daniel to see visions of history unfolding from his day to the end of time, the Last Day.
In Daniel 12:1-4, Daniel is reminded that after a time of great trouble, his people will be delivered. The deliverance will come on the Last Day when all humanity will be raised from the dead.
The righteous, whose names are written in the book, will be raised to everlasting life (v.2) and glory (v.3) but the unrighteous to “shame and everlasting contempt” (v.3).
Daniel, however, is to “shut the words and seal the book” because this prophecy is for “the time of the end,” not his time.
Daniel 12:5-12 | Two Questions – When? And What?
Naturally, questions arise when thinking about the end. An angel asks when these things will be, and is told the length of the time of trouble, but receives no answer as to when the end will come.
Confused, Daniel asked what will be the outcome of these things. That’s the more pertinent question. Asked in a more personal way, we can say, “What will happen to me on that day?”
Daniel 12:13 | An Answer
Here’s where I found comfort – in God’s words to Daniel (v.13). Daniel had already been told these events wouldn’t unfold in his lifetime.
So, how should he respond to these promises of future deliverance on the day of resurrection?
Live the life God has given you
Daniel is told to “go on your way till the end.” That is, he’s to live his life, the life God has given him.
As I looked back on my dad’s life, that’s what he did. He was the most moral man I knew. And yet, the Lord showed him that even moral men go to hell.
So, about six months after I came to faith in Christ, my dad gave his life to the Lord. And since that day, he lived his life to the glory of God.
We must encourage our people to live their lives, the life God has given them, to the glory of God. To live as Christians is to live for Christ.
Therefore, everything we do as we await that Last Day is for the glory of Christ our king and the advancement of the mission He’s given us.
We’re to work unto the Lord and warn all peoples everywhere about the Last Day because those who don’t profess Christ will face judgment.
Let’s help our people live the lives God has given them to His glory.
You will die
Because Daniel won’t see these future events unfold, he’s told, “you shall rest.” That’s to say, Daniel, “you’ll die.”
Until that day, all of us will die. We will go to the grave. Dad knew that, and he died well. God prepared us for dad’s death through the long process of sickness and dying.
We were able to come to terms with what was happening, process it together as a family, and come to the place where we wanted his suffering to end.
Of course, not everyone experiences this grace. Too many of us are confronted with the sudden death of those we love. And when we’re not prepared for death, the pain can be overwhelming.
As we face death, whether sudden or after a long process, we grieve. Grief is normal; it’s natural. It’s right to grieve when an enemy invades our ranks and steals from us those we love.
But don’t miss the point – while to live as Christians is to live for Christ, to die as Christians is gain. That’s why it’s called rest.
In my dad’s death, I was reminded how important it is for us as pastors to prepare our people for death—for their death. Unless Jesus returns in our lifetime, we will all die. But, death isn’t the last word.
You will stand in your allotted place
While Daniel will die (rest), on that Last Day when the dead are raised, he’ll stand in the place the Lord has allotted to him. That will be the outcome of these things for Daniel.
And that will be the outcome of these things for all who have trusted in Christ. This is our living hope.
And with this hope, we can face death. And with this hope, we can grieve. My dear fellow pastors, encourage one another with these words.