The funeral service took place yesterday of Trevor, one of our members who died last week. I’d known Trevor for over twenty years but had spent more time with him in the last year or two. He was a man with many fine qualities. He had served in the Royal Artillery in his younger days and he carried that discipline with him for his whole life. He was always immaculately dressed with collar and tie and polished shoes.
Anyone meeting Trevor would soon be aware that he was a man with a very real faith in God. In everything, Trevor not only lived by Christian principles but had a real relationship with God. In recent months he had been suffering with a terminal illness, yet he faced death with huge dignity, courage and an unshakable faith. When told that he had only a matter of a few months to live, he told me that he wasn’t worried about time since he had an eternity to spend with the Lord. Whenever we prayed together, his prayers were loaded with grateful expressions of thanks, which for me made these times deeply humbling.
When Trevor first became ill, he was admitted to hospital where surgeons performed a tracheotomy, a procedure which meant that he breathed via a tube in the front of his neck. At first Trevor was unable to speak (though he later had a different tube fitted that meant he spoke again) and he communicated by writing on paper. I asked him if he would like me to read to him and he nodded. I then asked if there was a particular passage that he would like and he wrote that he had been reading Peter’s epistles. I turned to 1 Peter 1 which is a favorite of mine. When I began to read, I remembered that the middle of the passage was all about ‘suffering grief and all kinds of trials’. If I’m honest, I wanted to encourage Trevor and would never have picked the passage if I’d remembered the content, since it wouldn’t seem appropriate for a man suffering with a terminal illness.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.
As I read, it dawned on me that the verses were in fact incredibly appropriate and my eyes filled with tears. When the reading was over, Trevor punched his fist into the palm of his other hand and nodded as if to say ‘that hit the nail on the head’.
Trevor’s faith was indeed more precious than gold, it glowed from him whether he was in good health or very sick and whether he was happy or grieving. It is a faith that compels us to give glory to God and fills us with joy.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”