|But I don’t want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have not hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)|
|Over a lifetime, most of us will attend far too many funerals. We will gather with family, or friends, to pay our respects; trying to come up with words of comfort that while politely received are generally not really heard by the survivors that remain behind.
In spite of the slide show of the deceased’s life that plays over and over in the background, we’ll wonder what kind of life the deceased really had. We wonder whether he, or she, was satisfied with life or not, happy or not, surrounded by friends or lonely, or something altogether different.
In our own way each of us will feel the sorrow in our heart that comes from the passing of a beloved family member or friend. Yet, Paul in his letter to the Christians in Thessalonica tells us to be careful of the type of sorrow that we feel. He tells these Christians not to sorrow as one without hope.
He reminds us that for the world, the non-believers, death is the final act; there is nothing beyond but the decay of the body. The person is gone never to be seen again. Death just leaves a loneliness that can never be satisfied.
He is reminding them, and us, that death is not the final act of life. Rather, it is the gateway into an eternal life filled with peace and joy that comes when we collect on the promise that God made to His children. No longer is the departed one beset with the problems that were a part of living on this side of death. Suffering is no more; replaced by the peace and joy of being with the Father and the Son.
For the Christian who has lost a fellow brother or sister we will see the one called home again. Yes, we will know grief but it will one day be replaced by the love that we will experience when we are once again united with our brother or sister.
|Father, I do grieve the loss of my family members, my friends, my brothers and sisters. Guide me through my grief to come to know peace that only You can provide. I look forward to the day when we will be reunited in Your presence. Until then, comfort me so that I can comfort others who are also grieving. In the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus, AMEN.|