“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.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13:14.
This has been a very difficult time in the life of our church. We have lost several dear friends and beloved church members recently. Our hearts are heavy and saddened as we have faced the bitter reality that death brings into our lives. We will experience a variety of emotions as we process recent events in the days and weeks ahead. Although we will battle a barrage of emotions, we must allow God’s Word to help us sift through truth from error. We must hold fast to the Lord and His Word as we grieve.
Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica about the importance of the grief of the Christian. It is natural to grieve and to be filled with sorrow in the face of death. Death is a constant reminder that this world is under the curse of sin. We should grieve the death of our friends and loved ones, but as we grieve we must be governed by the gospel of hope. The grief of the Christian is an informed grief. We grieve in the knowledge of the gospel. We grieve with hope. Paul says, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
Notice how Paul speaks the gospel of hope directly into our grief. Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for man’s sin AND he rose again. Jesus has conquered death. Therefore, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. The confidence we have in the face of death is that Jesus Christ has overcome the grave. Our confidence is not in our perfect obedience or strong faith, but in the shed blood of the Savior and in his victorious resurrection. Even when our faith is weak, God is strong.
We will grieve and we should grieve at this time, but our grief is mixed with hope. Our hope is that God will one day, one glorious day, end all suffering and death and restore this fallen world to its former un-fallen glory. Revelation 21:3-5
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
So let us grieve in the hope of the gospel for it is the only grief that will sustain us in times like these.