Jump Start # 2778
1 Thessalonians 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.”
Having the facts makes all the difference. Error doesn’t stand much chance when a person knows what is right. Fear, worry and doubt all seem to go away when a person knows. And, this passage begins, as Paul said in other places, “we do not want you to be uninformed.” In the Corinthian letter we find the words, “do not be unaware.” The N.T. model was driven by the teaching of God’s word. This was not a movement based upon feelings, emotions and happy thoughts. Rather, it was built upon solid teaching of God’s word. This is why in Ephesians the text tells us that God sent apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
When a person is not informed, they are likely to believe anything. A persuasive messenger, with a slick message, can fool the masses when they do not know. “Sounds good to me,” is all it takes for the wrong ideas to get a foothold in our faith and in our hearts.
In our passage, Paul wants the brethren to know about what happens when one passes through the doorway of death. “We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren about those who are asleep.” There isn’t a lot said about what happens at death. Most of the Bible is directed towards how one lives on this side of that door. The right choices here, will mean we will be right on the other side. And, since there isn’t much info, the winds of speculation blow strongly.
Paul refers to two types of grieving– grieving with hope and grieving without hope. Hope makes all the difference. Without that hope, there is no hope. And, that hope is much more than positive thinking. It’s not the same as being optimistic. It is a hope that is real, alive and supported by faith in Jesus Christ.
Have you given much thought to the two forms of grieving? Hopeless grief and hopeful grief.
First, the hopeful grief understands. This is why the apostle said, “we do not want you to be uniformed.” I want you to know. And, one of the thing a Christian understands is that with the passing of another Christian, it is never “good-bye.” It’s only, “See you later.” The grief will end. The promise of being in Heaven fills the heart and helps to dry the tears. The Christian understands that the departed righteous is safe and at peace in the Lord. He understands that as much as he misses the righteous, he would not want them to be back here. Trials, trouble and pain plague our days.
Second, the hopeful grief knows that the Lord understands. We sing, “Does Jesus care,” and the answer is always “Yes.” He not only knows of our sorrow, but He does care. The righteous knows not to blame God. Death is the enemy of God. Death is allowed, but not the way God intended for things to be. The comfort of the Scriptures assures the heart more than anything else.
Third, the hopeful grief knows that with God is where we are supposed to be. Since the banishment from the garden, man has been separated from God. The Lord wants us to be with Him. At home in Heaven is where we are supposed to be. The Christian views the death of the righteous as a life well lived. It is a course completed. It is a battle fought and won. It is a race that has been finished. It is a victory.
However, the unhopeful grief holds on the wishes, speculation, and ideas that come from the heart and not from God. They want to believe that their departed is in Heaven, but there’s nothing to support that wish other than a broken heart. They want to believe that their departed is having a time of their life on the other side. Yet for so many, they do not understand. They have no true concept of what Heaven is like. They do not understand death. Some are even angry with God. Some will blame God.
It is even worse for those who believe that there is nothing beyond the grave. For those who are wholly materialistic, this life is it. Death closes the book. There is no anticipation of anything else. Life ends and that’s it. So sad. So secular. Nothing to calm the heart. Nothing to hold on to. No purpose for life and definitely no value in death. The shallow, emptiness of now cannot comfort a broken heart.
The words of Paul in this Thessalonian passage shows us that there is life beyond the grave. Jesus is coming. And, through faith, these words can comfort the grieving and broken heart.
Two people can walk away from the cemetery. One walks away with a puzzlement, confusion and questions. Is this it? Why do what I do if this is the way we all end up? For some, it will be the bottle that numbs the pain but never brings comfort. Time passes. More funerals. Those questions remain. Fear of dying fills this person’s heart. But the other person, a Christian, walks away from that same cemetery with understanding, hope and even comfort. He realizes there has been incredible footprints left for him to follow. He sees the value of worship, prayer and walking closely with the Lord. He doesn’t fear death. In fact, he longs to be on the other side.
One walks away broken, empty and unable to stop the grief. The other walks away with tears, but a sense of comfort, joy and peace. He is thankful for the resurrection of Jesus. He is thankful for grace and forgiveness. He is thankful that God allowed their lives to intersect.
Grief with hope and grief without hope. The difference, as always, is Jesus.