I took this picture of Holy Rood church in Watford as mourners were gathering in preparation for a funeral. The service was for Jean – Dodi’s sister. Dodi is a 20-year member of the Northwest London Christian church and a stalwart of the Watford Family Group. Lisa Cronje, Becky Makinson and I were able to go and support her on this difficult day, and it was a privilege to do so. The God of comfort was there too,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5 NIV)

The eldest brother shared, followed by two of Jean’s daughters. All spoke movingly, and many tears were shed by those speaking and those in the congregation. Funerals are always sobering occasions for me, whether I know the person well or not. Jean was just 62 – young by today’s standards. Life is uncertain and fragile in ways we do not understand and do not want to admit. This is true for me, but also for all around us.

“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” (1 Peter 1:24–25 NIV)

The conviction I came away with was this. No one on this earth knows how many true Christians there are in Northwest London and Hertfordshire. Only God knows, and He is not telling. However, I and all Christians should live as if we are the only hope for the people we know. Jesus lived that way, his disciples lived that way, the early church lived that way, and – if we are going to follow Jesus as his disciples – we must confront wishful thinking about the spiritual state of people. It is not loving to assume people are “probably all right really”. Love speaks the truth, and love wants to know the truth, and love wants to act to save,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15–17 NIV)

Perhaps all of us should pop into a funeral now and again – if only to renew our conviction that life is short.