“…we who are still alive… 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. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
At the memorial service of a dear friend, my pastor spoke of how words of comfort rarely suffice in times of sorrow. Grief can be covered with words and Hallmark card sentiments, but we still need more. What we need is a word from the Lord.
God has not left us in silence. Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica who were grieving the persecution and loss of their Christian friends. “According to the Lord’s own word” (v. 15), Paul wrote, making it clear that the tragedies inflicting them were, indeed, in God’s plan. Paul’s word choice of “falling asleep” was carefully designed to imply also a “waking up.” We wake up to these understandings: our weeping in sorrow is not without hope; those who die as Jesus’ followers are immediately present with Him; Jesus brings us the privilege of being raised
One day and re-united with our loved ones; we have the true words of encouragement and hope because they come to us from the Lord of all hope whose plans are to give us hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11).
Hold fast to Jesus, the hope set before you as you rejoice in sufferings, persevere in trials, grow in character, and find encouragement.