“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
A friend of mine went home to be with Jesus this past week. The morning of his funeral, I read a Charles Finney sermon entitled, The Death of Saints Precious. This particular sermon was preached at a funeral in 1849. While I love all of Finney’s main points, this one especially stood out to me:
“God accounts their death precious, because He really enjoys their joy better than they do themselves.”
His first point was similar: “God deems the death of His saints precious because their happiness is very dear to Him.” Are you following Finney’s logic? Because God cares deeply for the happiness of His children and because He actually values their joy more than they do themselves, He considers their death to be precious.
I thought about that again this morning as we studied Psalm 104 in Sunday School. Consider the rending of verse thirty-one in a couple different translations:
“Let the LORD be glad in His works” (NASB).
“May the LORD rejoice in His works” (NIV).
That’s exactly what God does when He welcomes one of His children home! Angels high five one another. Confetti falls. Music shakes the place. Joy and happiness abound. What a moment! Finney wrote, “In a very real sense, when God receives His children home, He receives the reward of all His labors in their behalf.” God has worked for the salvation and sanctification of His recreated image bearers. Their much-anticipated arrival in glory greatly glorifies God! He has pure joy and the joy of the saint surely is indescribable!
Due to these facts, Finney challenged those in attendance that day to be careful not to mourn selfishly. He admitted doing so upon the death of his own wife. He confessed, “I said to myself–Shall I be thinking of my loss and not of her much greater gain.” His conclusion was actually a warning, “Let us behave how we take exceptions, even impliedly, to God’s dealings!” I love that! Be careful when you call God’s character into question–even when experiencing intense grief. God is good and does good (Ps. 119:68). And, if anything is good, that which promotes God’s joy and the joy of His children surely is!
So, rejoice when those who know God the Father through Christ are ushered into the tangible presence of God–the home of pure joy! Mourn appropriately, but thank God for this wonderful truth:
“In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11).