Specific Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The Thessalonians were confused. They believed what Paul told them about Jesus. They believed that because He died and paid for their sins, that they would live forever in communion with God. They believed Jesus' promise that He would come again. What confused them was how come some of their church members died before Jesus returned? That doesn't seem to jive with the promise that they would live forever.
2000 years later we still struggle with this concept. We often hear the platitude that death is just a part of life, as if it were as natural as the sun rising and setting. It's not. Man was not created to die, and it is the ugliest reminder of sin there is. It hurts deeply when people we love die, and it causes tremendous grief.
Paul doesn't command you not to grieve. He just says here not to grieve like the rest of mankind. The world grieves because they have no hope. Death is the end for them; it is a crushing finality.
But once again, you are reminded that you are different. You have hope. You can, and often must grieve. You might remember we read in Ecclesiastes that it's better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting, because it is only through grief that you can fully appreciate what it is that Jesus has done for you.
You are promised here that those who have died in the Lord will return with Him. That's an amazing promise, but that's not all:
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (v17)
This is what it all comes down to. It is because of this assurance that you've been reading the Bible and praying every day. Whether you or a Christian loved one dies before Christ returns, or you live to see Him descending from the clouds, we will all be with the Lord forever! Do you see how that changes the character of your grief?
This is something that we need to talk about more. Paul commands very simply in verse 18:
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Prayer For The Day: Dear Father, thank you for the tremendous promise of eternal life through your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for understanding what our grief is like, for your Son grieved with us as well. Help me to encourage others often with this tremendous promise. Amen.