Celebrating a Victorious Life
One of the most difficult things we do in life (if not THE most difficult) is to grieve. Adjusting to the loss of someone close and dear to us seems like an insurmountable challenge. The emotional, and sometimes the physical, pain is so intense we literally feel we cannot breathe. And yet, when that person has lived their life for God, with God, their eyes and hope on Heaven, that life is one of victory and should be celebrated.
But how do we celebrate when our hearts are shattered in pieces, torn in two, even emotionally ripped from within us, knowing life will never be the same again? How do we celebrate when we feel so devastated, so overwhelmed, so totally drowning in grief that just living life seems impossible?
As in other victories and celebrations in our lives, this celebration is not one of loud laughter and frivolous actions. Rather, it is the intellectual knowledge and recognition of the promise from God our Father , that our loved one is in a better place, no longer enduring pain or any kind of suffering, and is enjoying a new life in a new home in the presence of The Godhead. For a Christian that knowledge alone should bring a measure of joy and comfort to our hearts for years to come.
Part of that celebration includes our memories and the sharing of those memories with those around us, especially with our church family. They are our support system (Galatians 6:2) and will help hold us up and hold us together until such time we are able to once again stand on our own and even be their support in their time of need. (Let me say here that being part of someone’s support system does NOT mean you know how that person feels in their grief. Even if we have suffered the same loss, we cannot know exactly how that person feels. We are all different and only God knows how we feel.)
However, the major portion of this celebration of life should not be simply the knowledge and mental recognition of God’s promise, great and wonderful as it is, or even recalling those precious memories. Celebrating that life should be telling how they lived and sharing their beliefs with others, as is appropriate to do in memorial services. To go even further with this thought…what greater celebration of a life than to imitate them as they imitated Christ. Paul tells the Corinthians to do that very thing In I Corinthians 11:1. Then, in the imitating of Christ, being of the same mind of Christ, the true honor and glory will go to God.
What is the victorious life? How do you get it? How do you know you have it? It begins by making sure you are IN Christ by having your sins washed away (Acts 2:38; 8:36), making sure your life is clean and pure in God’s sight. Then you must always seek His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), ever doing what He wants you to do….. walking in the light, having fellowship with other Christians (I John 1:7) (We cannot have a victorious life alone), serving others (Ephesians 4:1-3), always striving to have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16; Phil. 4:6-8), ever building your relationship with God the Father as well as God the Son (John 17:3; 8:32; 14:6, 15; 15:14) which includes daily study and prayer.
A life of victory is not easy. It is certainly not a smooth straight road from the waters of baptism to Heaven. Many things we encounter along the way will distract us, entice us, take us by surprise and knock us down, and yes, even challenge our faith. But it is with God’s Word (the Sword of the Spirit–Ephesians 6:17) in our hands, our hearts, and our minds, the support and encouragement of brothers and sisters in Christ, and prayer and faith that we will have that help to get us through (Psalm 23:4; Philippians 4:13; I Corinthians 10:13) that brings the victory.
Many examples in our congregations readily come to mind whose lives have been victorious. Think back on those lives. They had challenges, temptations, heartaches—all which made them stronger, deepened their faith in God and more fully focused their walk to Heaven. They, like those mentioned in Hebrews 11, along with John, Peter, and Paul (just to name a few) never knew a life free of problems. That is what made them strong. That is what made them long for Heaven (Philippians 1:21-23) and kept that hope for Heaven strong. They knew there was something better out there than this life (as good as it can be).
Therefore, as we go about our daily lives, celebrating births and birthdays, baptisms and marriages, graduations and yes, even winning awards and ball games and such (for such is what makes this life so enjoyable), the real goal in life is to live victoriously…..to live so we can later hear “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17)… to live so that when we pass on our family and friends can– and will–celebrate our victorious life. And as they celebrate our victorious life, they, too, will gain their measure of comfort from it, and will in turn imitate us as we sought to imitate Christ.
By Beth Turner