When I was a little girl, my cousins gave me a lop-eared rabbit for my birthday. After a few years, the little friend passed away. Never having experienced death, my mother explained to me that my rabbit had just gone to sleep for a very long time. At the time, it was her way of helping ease the reality of death for my broken heart. In this passage, we see Paul do something similar. But along with his message, he brings encouragement and hope.
- As believers in Christ, how are we to face the reality of a loved one’s death with hope?
READ THE WORD: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV)
13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. 15 For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
- In verse 13, when Paul said, “those who fall asleep,” what was he really talking about?
- In verse 15, what did Paul mean when he said that we who are still alive will not precede those who have fallen asleep?
- What is the significance of the Lord’s second coming to be announced by the voice of the archangel?
- According to this passage, who will rise up to be with the Lord?
- In what way does this teaching give you renewed hope and comfort in what he has in store for you?
RESPOND TO GOD
There’s never anything easy about losing a loved one. Not only do we struggle with the loss and hurt of missing their presence in our lives, but it also forces us to recognize our own mortality. As believers, we have a great hope in the promise God has given us: that we will always be with the Lord. We will have eternal life with him, and eternal life with those believers we have lost as well.
- Pray for those loved ones in your life who do not yet know Jesus, that they might have this hope as well.