Hope for Eternity
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
St. Paul does not write that Christians do not grieve. The death of a spouse, a child, or a loved one can be a source of pain that will never truly be relieved this side of heaven. That’s why he distinguishes that we do not grieve like others who have no hope. Christian funerals are different. There may be tears and grief, but even still, the saints of God are able to lift their voices in song, “I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives.” Those who grieve do so with the certainty that in the resurrection on the last day we will be reunited with those who have gone before us in the faith. While there is sadness, there is also confidence that because Christ has risen again, He will one day come back and we will all be caught up together and we will always be with the Lord.
Whether we face a global pandemic or a difficult doctor’s prognosis, we do so with our eyes cast forward on our resurrected and ascended Lord. For we live each day trusting in the One who triumphed over all His foes and will one day return in glory because the last enemy to be defeated is death. Our prayer is that this hope will continue to sustain us as we walk and even as we grieve in this vale of tears.
Christ’s resurrection and His return on the last day also means that we do not need to live in fear of COVID-19 or cancer, dementia or depression. The frailties of our mortal bodies are temporary and when Christ comes again, we will be transformed to be like His glorious body and all of the effects of sin and death will be removed. What we have to look forward to in the resurrection is the removal of all of the signs of the old order of things and the hope that all things will be made new in Christ in the resurrection. So dear friends, we live each day in that sure and certain hope that is ours because Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again!
Prayer – Heavenly Father, into whose keeping we entrust our loved ones, help us to look to You in our time of sorrow, remembering the cloud of faithful witnesses with which we are surrounded. Grant that we may one day share in the joys of those who now rest in Your presence; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan