We gather this morning to mourn the loss and to celebrate the life of Joshua David Good. As we do so we look for something or someone who will help us find hope rather than despair. That someone we turn to is the Lord.
The apostle Paul wrote,
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
In the gospel of John there is a story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. They were friends of Jesus. Mary and Martha had a brother named Lazarus and he died suddenly. When Jesus came to the visitation Martha went to Jesus and expressed her regret that Jesus had not come earlier, so he could heal Lazarus. Let me read the rest of the conversation,
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
This is our task today . . . to believe even though we do not see; to trust even though the pain is great.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father we come to you this morning with hearts that are numb from grief. You know what a unique and special person Josh was. You know what a prominent part he played in the life of this community. The thought that he is gone from us is still staggering.
Today Lord we need you help. Help us to hope. Help us to see beyond the present pain. Help us to find you at this time when you seem so far away. Amen.
Joshua David “Goody” Good, age 21 of Stronghurst, Illinois died at 10:00 p.m. Sunday May 30, 2010 at his home. He was born January 10, 1989 in Peoria, Illinois, the son of Shane Good and Wendi Noble.
Josh was employed as a dietary aide at Oak Lane Nursing & Rehab in Stronghurst. He was a 2008 graduate of West Central High School in Biggsville. He loved to sing, and during junior high and high school, was active in chorus, receiving many first and second ribbons in contests. He was an avid blood donor and enjoyed video games, music, and visiting with his many friends and family.
He is survived by his mother – Wendi Noble of Stronghurst, his father – Shane Good of Lomax, IL., two sisters – Hannah and Caitlin Good of Stronghurst, one brother – Zach Smith of Stronghurst, and his grandparents – Ronnie and Elaine Good of Lomax and George Vaughn of Wapello, IA. He was preceded in death by his grandmother – Bonnie Vaughn, an uncle – Richard Allen Good, and one cousin Kimberley Huppenbauer.
Richard Clifton has known Josh most of his life and is going to share some of his thoughts.
Wendi, I want you to know how honored I am to hae this opportunity to speak about Josh and how his life has left some pretty special moments for all of us who were lucky enough to know Josh. In tetrospect in ways I can’t mention Josh was an inspirational young man.
Jordan Brokaw, Josh’s very special friend has asked me to read this poem
As we walk our path of life,
We meet people everyday.
Mose are simply met by chance.
But, some are sent our wsay.
These become special friends
Whose bond we can’t explain; the ones who understand us
And share our joy and pain.
Their love contains no boundaries
So, even if we are apart
Their presence enhances us
With a warmth felt in the heart.
This love becomes a passageway
When even the miles disappear.
And so, these friend, God sends our way,
Remain forever near.
Jordan, I can assure you that today Josh has heard your words and wants you to know he feels the same way.
The death of one’s child is perhaps the hardest thing in life to understand and accept. A parent never expects to bury their child. It is unnatural, it is unfair, it is cruel, it is almost unbearable, but it happes. People will say; “It will be Okay” – It won’t. They will say, “it will get better” -it won’t. They say “I understand how you feel” but they don’t unless they have lost a child also.
This morning, from the family at OakLane I say, “We can’t make this go away, we can’t say anything which will ease the pain, but I promise, we vcan be good listeners, when you are able to talk about your feelings, we will be there for you, and we will Listen.“
Joshua’s stone will read: Joshua Good, Born Jan 10, 1989 – Died May 30, 2010. Those date are important because they note the beginning and the end. But what is really important is the dash in the middle. Each of us will have our own way of filling in these dashes. This morning I will attempt to fill in these dashes as how Josh impacted me.
To Me Josh was a teacher…………… Josh taught me a most important lesson when he was just a 4th grader. Josh cam to Oaklane with his 4th grace class. It was adopt-a-grandpartent day. As the class was leaveing Josh came up to me and said, “I know who you are Immediately my mind began to churcn, let’s see: He probably knows me as a coach, teacher, principal, or his mom’s boss. My head swelled a little bit as I anticipated Josh’s next words, wondering which of my great achievements he was going to mention. He answered, “You are Anna’s dad, she came to reading class last year and she’s my friend.”
That day Josh taught me something I should have known. Being a good parent is the greatest accomplishment we make in living. Somehow Josh as a 4th grader already knew something he taught me in my 50’s.
To Me Josh was a Role-Model…………Let’s look at what Josh accomplished in such a short time. Josh as every child does, had every opportunity to make bad choices, be he did not. He chose not to be a smoker, he chose not to be a drinker, he chose not to do drugs. He chose instead to go out on his own. He chose to accept responsibility or his actions. He chose not to blame others for his mistakes but to learn from them. He chose not to accpet failure but when confronted with failure he chose to keep trying. Josh faced failure many many times but he never quit trying. Who better to choose as a model for how to live.
To me Josh was the Ideal Employee…………He too great pride in having a job and in dooing it right. He wore his hair net and carried his box-cutter with as much pride as a Wall Street Executive wore his business suit and carried his Blackberry.
He strove to do things the correct way, not the wasy way, he accepted criticism and made no excuses for failure. His biggest concern was pleasing his bosses, not just when his next paycheck or vacation days would arrive. Don’t we will all our employess had that same approach.
Josh enjoyed coming to work. He always came with a smile on his face. It was a smile that somehow transformed a dreary, monotonous workday into a very pleasant work environment.
Yes, who among us brought more enjoyment, more enthusiasm, more joy, more of a sense of fellowship to the job than Josh. We truly will be worse off by his absence.
On May 30th 2010 We lost a teacher, a role-model, a model employee, a friend, on May 30th we lost family.
On January 10th 1989 Josh came to earth as what the school labeled “a special needs child”, On May 30, 2010 JOsh left this world not as a special needs child . . . he left this world “Special.
Whenever I am asked to do a funeral for someone I didn’t know personally I immediately start asking around so that I can learn as much as possible. Everything I have learned about Josh from conversations and Facebook has been positive. Every picture I’ve seen reveals a young man who enjoyed life. I’ve learned that
- He loved music. He had a beautiful bass voice and always used to tell Mrs. Hilligoss, “Mrs. H, if you want me to try it – I’ll do it.” Everyone who knew Josh has a picture in their head of him walking around listening to his iPod most likely listening to Rock or Heavy Metal music . . . and he was probably listening to it LOUD.
- He was well-mannered. He was polite to everyone he met.
- He loved his family. He was real close to his sisters and his brother and his other relatives.
- He was a fun guy. He was the class clown and was always looking to say something that would bring a smile. He made rounds around Stronghurst and loved stopping by FS to give the ladies a hard time.
- He had a special friend in Jordan Brokaw who never viewed Josh as someone who was different . . .he saw him only as his friend.
- He liked to collect knives and hats
- He loved Harley Davidson motorcycles even though he couldn’t drive
- He was a Facebook addict because it allowed him to keep in touch with his friends.
- He enjoyed watching NASCAR and liked to play his video games.
In short, he was a guy that I know I would have liked.
Josh was a man who had trials in his life but he didn’t let those trials define him or defeat him. He could have complained but didn’t. He did more than survive . . . he thrived. However, as we think about his relatively short life we are left with a nagging question, aren’t we? It is the question Why?
When Jesus was talking to His disciples right before His crucifixion he told them, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” The Bible is an honest book. It deals with the questions of life in a straightforward way. All throughout the Bible there are records of people who asked “Why?” Even Jesus when He hung on the cross cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” David asked “Why have you forgotten me?” (Psalm 42:9) The Prophet Jeremiah asked, “Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable?” (Jeremiah 15:18) I share these verses so you will know that your questions are not unique or “unspiritual”.
I have asked these same questions. My dad died three years ago. He was a wonderful man who suffered the devastation of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. My dad was diagnosed when he was just 59 years old. I’ve asked “Why?” many times myself.
The place where I turn when I have “why?” questions is to the Bible book named Job. It is the story of a guy who seemed to get a “raw deal’. He was a good man who loved God and tried to do everything God required. Yet in a very short period of time Job’s business was destroyed due to thieves and a fire. He lost all his employees because they were murdered. All ten of his children were killed in a tornado. And if that is not bad enough he developed a serious and excruciating illness.
Even in the tragedy Job tried to remain faithful he said,
I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
The more Job thought about things the more he began to ask the same question we ask: Why? It wasn’t so much that he was angry, he just wanted to understand.
Several of Job’s friends came by and they told Job that bad things happen because God is punishing us. Job said they that didn’t make any sense. He worked hard to live faithfully. The friends refused to give up and Job became very frustrated. He told God that he wished he had never been born. (It should be noted that later God told Job’s friends that they were a lot smarter when they kept their mouths shut!).
At the end of the discussion God showed up! He told Job that He would be happy to answer Job’s questions if he would first answer a few of His: They were questions like: How is it that the Sun hangs in space? Where were you when God created the world? Who made the animals (and humans) so that they relate to each other as they do? In other words, “Who do you think is really in charge?”
There were a whole list of questions and it is obvious that Job (like us) couldn’t answer the questions. Job realized that there were many mysteries in life. He saw that there are many things in life we will not understand on this side of eternity.
The thing about the book of Job is that God never answered Job’s questions! Instead God said: “When you don’t understand what is going on, trust Me!” He called Job to rely on God’s character rather than his ability to understand. In times of confusion we must rest in three certain truths: 1) God is in control; 2) He loves us; 3) Since He is perfect and holy, He never ever makes a mistake.
Even the death of Jesus didn’t make any sense until He rose from the dead. Why would God allow His representative to die? After Jesus returned from death it was clear that Jesus had to die to pay for our wrongdoing and rebellion and make it possible for us to be forgiven and have eternal life.
We are all confused about Josh’s death but the point is: We don’t see the whole picture yet. Jesus tells us that this life is not all that there is (and since He died and came back to life . . . I believe Him). He also tells us that those who put their trust in Him as the Ruler and King in their lives will live even though they die.
The Bible’s picture of Heaven is not of bored people sitting on clouds playing a harp. It is a picture of fulfillment, joy, wholeness, perspective, and an intimacy with God that is beyond our ability to comprehend here. I think part of the reason we can’t grasp Heaven is because if we could grasp it, we would be living recklessly hoping to die!
To us this day is a great loss and tragedy. However, the Bible tells us that if Josh was a person who truly trusted Jesus Christ as the Lord of His life (and that is a judgment only God can make), then this is not a loss or tragedy to Josh. For him this is a day of wholeness, a day of great joy, a day of music unlike anything he has heard or dreamt about. If we could grasp the wonder of Heaven we would realize that if Josh were given the choice of whether or not to return to us He would never give up what he has found in God’s presence. God is not punishing Josh, He is promoting him! We grieve not for Josh . . . but for ourselves. We have suffered loss . . . he has gained everything!
God hears our questions; He understands our frustration. He will explain someday . . .but not now. For now He says, “Trust me!” It is not an easy answer but it is the best answer. The alternative is to become angry, bitter, and to turn away from God. When we do so we also turn away from hope, strength, life, forgiveness, life beyond the grave . . . .and a reunion with Josh.
So in this difficult time I encourage you to do two things. First, look to God for help and strength. Ask Him to help you trust Him. Keep repeating the three essential truths: God is in control, He loves me, and He never makes a mistake. Take some time to give thanks to God for enriching your life through Josh. Reach out to Him so that He can give you hope even in the midst of sadness.
Second, reflect on, celebrate, and learn the lessons from Josh’s life
- Josh taught us that we can live under our circumstances or we can build on those circumstances and in doing so overcome them.
- He taught us that being polite not only shows respect; it garners respect in return
- He taught us that music can lift our spirits and bring joy to our hearts
- He taught us that a warm smile and a welcoming wave can lift the spirits of the one who is the recipient of the smile.
- He taught us that you can never know what you can do, until you try.
- He taught us that life is unpredictable which reminds us that we can’t put off dealing with what is most important. Every one of us will have to deal with eternity . . . it is better to do so now because you don’t know how much time you really have.
- And He taught us that what is most important is not how many years you live but how much life you put into the years you have.
We now entrust Josh to the Lord of life, the one who has loved him from before he was born. And we look forward to the day when we will see him again.
Our Father, we struggle with the idea of trust. We want to believe that there is a reason between the seemingly arbitrary things of life. We want to believe that life makes sense, that there is purpose, that there is something beyond what we can see, feel, and touch.
Help us O Lord to cling to you. Deliver us from the pretend faith that is of no help in such times. Help us to put our trust in the Lord Jesus who died and rose again and promised that those who trust and follow Him would live even though they die.
We ask that you welcome Josh into your Kingdom. Help him to enjoy the fullness of life that is possible only through you. I pray for this family. The void and loss is so great. Fill them with wonderful and vivid memories of Josh. Help them to reach that point where their memories will bring less tears and more smiles of appreciation and gratefulness. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.