1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (NIV)
In today’s passage, Paul addresses the sadness of those who have lost loved ones. Grief can be a powerful force against our spirit. We are all touched by its presence, some more than others. Losing someone is like a crater upon our souls. Something is missing. Our loved one is missing. And we are never the same when loved ones pass.
Some might say that time heals all wounds. Time may help us to not think so much about our loss, but regardless of how much time has passed, when our thoughts go to those memories, the pain resurfaces. We cope better, and life goes on, giving the sense of lessening intensity, but our heart still breaks. Why has the Lord established the mode of operation for human beings to include such pain? Paul’s answer to this was to point upward and forward to Heaven. Our mourning I ameliorated by the hope of seeing our loved ones in Heaven. Perhaps, this is one more way the Lord attempts to draw us to Him.
The Lord has given us people who have nurtured us, been there for us in our worst moments, and loved us to the end. When they pass, our pain reflects the love we have for them. If it did not hurt, there would be no love. Our loss enlightens us in a scanty way of God’s pain to give His Son to die. But we must remember the story of God does not end at the cross. He rose and ascended to be reunited with the Father, so we will also be reunited with our loved ones. Our pain is not eliminated with this thought, but this thought does change the direction our pain moves us.
God intends for our grief to pull us toward Heaven. Yet, like all things, the god of this age works to distort God’s way of holding us near. When we allow grief to stall our mind in the thoughts of sadness, we distance ourselves from God in depression or bitterness. As people of God, we must adopt the perspective of eternity. This life is temporary, and our suffering here, intended to draw us nearer to God, will one day disappear. In the meantime, God calls us to Him in our pain, fatigue, and sadness. He will not remove all the pain but blend it with hope and peace as we wait to see our loved ones again.
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for preparing a gathering place where we can be with our loved ones again. Let us appreciate this eternal gift. Amen.