Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. 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. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The holiday season is upon us. There are gifts to buy, family gatherings to attend, food to prepare, houses to clean and schedules to manage. At work there are deadlines to meet, overtime hours to put in, projects to complete and stressed out people to deal with. At school there are papers to write, assignments to finish and exams to take. If that were not enough, there is something deeper. Sure, the holidays can serve as an occasion to reconnect with family and friends, but they can also serve to remind us of the loss of loved ones. There is an empty chair at the Thanksgiving meal. There are not as many presents under the tree. That infectious laugh isn’t heard anymore. That room-brightening smile isn’t seen anymore. The warmth and love of a dear one isn’t felt anymore.
Stress and sorrow are part of living in a sinful world. They can darken our lives to such an extent that we fail to see not only the blessings God gives to us daily, but also the eternal glory he has in store for his people. We needn’t let the stress run us ragged or grieve like we have no hope. We do have hope. We have Jesus, our precious Savior, whose love is so great that he gave his life on a cross to forgive our every failure. We have Jesus, our risen Savior, who has turned death from a permanent condition to a temporary sleep. We have Jesus, our Lord, who will return, who will raise back to life those who have fallen asleep and will bring all his believers of every age to the eternal home he has prepared for them. We have Jesus. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.
So, when the stress of the season is overwhelming, when the sorrow of departed dear ones weighs heavily, take every ounce of encouragement from these beautiful words: We will be with the Lord forever. Encourage one another with these words. We will be with the Lord forever. That brilliant truth brightens the darkest day. We will be with the Lord forever.
O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation. We often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation. Your saints are waiting patiently. Come soon, Redeemer; make us free from every evil. Amen.
Source: WELS Devotions