DayBreaks for 12/10/19: A Message for the Grieving
Do you remember your first brush with death? It might have been the death of a pet, or when you first saw road kill. For some, the first touch of death is for a human who was loved but now gone. It matters little what the first encounter was, for we will most certainly encounter death numerous times during our few years. People have wondered since the dawn of creation about the dead – where are they, is there a place they go to, if so – what is it like? Will we see them again? For Christians, the questions are a bit more focused: do the dead in Christ go to be with him right away, or do they go to some kind of “holding tank” until the end? Or, are they even conscious until the resurrection?
It appears that the Christians at Thessalonica had questions about such matters and the apostle Paul wrote partly to bring their questioning to an end. Paul had several things to say that were instructive:
FIRST: We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13, JB) As with any group of people, they’d seen loved ones die and be buried. And they wanted to know more about their plight. And, thankfully, God wanted them to know more about their status, so He had Paul pen these words. There are some who will read this that will experience their first Christmas without a particular loved one. Let God speak to you through the words of Paul this year to give you comfort. But Paul goes on:
SECOND: I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him all the Christians who have died. (1 Thes. 4:13-14, TLB) What is God telling us in this passage? That we will see our believing loved ones again. This passage also hints at something another verse will make even more clear: where the dead believers go in the interim – that Jesus will bring them “with him” – so they must be where he is.
THIRD: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Phil. 1:21-23, NIV) Where does Paul say he would go if he departed this life? “To be with Christ.”
Just a day or two ago, I was exchanging email with a friend whose wife (both he and his wife are Christians) passed away this past summer, and I asked him how he was doing during this holiday season. He replied to me, and I wrote back and simply said, “This year she’ll be celebrating Christmas with the One who was born in the stable.” I believe that with all my heart – she is presently with the Lord, and when He comes back, she’ll come with Him – as will all our loved ones who have died in Christ.
I want to remind us all that the holidays are very difficult times for people who face them alone for the first time – for all who will have an empty chair at the family gathering this year. Please – reach out to them and share this part of the good news with those who are in Christ – let God speak peace through you to encourage them as to the fate of their loved ones.
PRAYER: Thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises and reassurances to us, Lord! Please give comfort to all those who have lost believing loved ones during this year and make us be instruments of Your grace and comfort. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>