As we come to the time when we must commit the body of Mrs. Smith to the ground, we should do so with the assurance of these words of Scripture. They are words of assurance for every person who dies in Christ, as a believer in His work on the cross of Calvary which has accomplished the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
As Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, our fleshly bodies cannot enter into the eternal presence of God. We will gladly set aside our earthly "tent" so that we may possess the new heavenly "building" which God has prepared for us, and which will never be subject to corruption. It is necessary for us to set aside this earthly body, so that we may put on our heavenly, glorified body. As we place this body into the ground, we do so awaiting its resurrection and transformation. What a glorious hope!
As we commit the body of Mrs. Smith to the ground, there is yet another text which I would commend to you, to think about in a way that you may never have considered before. Listen to these words of our Lord:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
I would like to suggest to you who believe in the Lord Jesus, and who loved Mrs. Smith, that we are now "laying up treasure in heaven" as we commit her physical body to the ground. It is in her heavenly body that she will live forever, and in a way that will make her no longer vulnerable to earthly corruption. And as we "lay her up in heaven" we find that in so doing our hearts become that much more fixed on heaven as well. She is a treasure, which our hearts look forward to enjoying for all eternity, in the presence of God.