Christian Living

Spiritual Life

In Loving Memory

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NKJV)

My grandmother was 91-years-old when she passed away. I meditated on this scripture for several days after her death. When the Bible speaks of someone who has fallen asleep, it is referring to someone who has physically died. If the Bible uses the word dead or death, it is typically referring to spiritual death or a state of being separated from God. And in this sense, a person could be physically alive and quite healthy, but dead – meaning they are separated from God.

The apostle Paul said he didn’t want us to be ignorant. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge. Paul was saying he did not want us to have a lack of knowledge (or understanding) concerning those who have fallen asleep, or passed on from this life, like those who have no hope.

I am thankful to say that Grandma was a believer. A few nights before she passed, I asked her if she would have ever thought I'd grow up to be a preacher. She couldn't talk, but she smiled as we laughed at the thought. Because the thing is, life is not about where you start but where you finish. Grandma had been a widow for 37 years (as long as I am old). Grandpa passed away two weeks before I was born. Grandma had remained steadfast and strong. Besides her husband, she had also lost a daughter, two infant sons, and several siblings. But, as Paul wrote, we don't have to "sorrow as others who have no hope." As Christians, we have hope! Yes, the pain of separating on this earth from someone we love is very hard; but I honestly can't imagine the pain of separation if I did not have the Spirit of the Living God abiding on the inside of me as a believer.

“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you... because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, ...” Colossians 1:3,5 (NKJV)

There is a difference between natural hope and spiritual hope. With natural hope, we can be disappointed. But in spiritual hope, we can have confidence. And that's actually what the word hope means; it is a confident expectation of things to come. This is why the scripture says,

"Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)(Emphasis mine) 

And following the example of Abraham, the father of our faith, we must believe in spiritual hope, which is contrary to natural hope (Romans 4:18).

But remember, embracing spiritual hope doesn't stop our tears or the pain of loss. We are simply comforted with the thought that our believing loved ones who have fallen asleep are with the Lord Jesus and we too shall join them someday. In fact, Paul continued in Thessalonians to tell us:

"...whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him [Jesus]." 1 Thessalonians 5:10 (NKJV) 

So, we don't have to wonder where our loved ones are - they are with Jesus our Lord!

The best news of all may be that they are only a few minutes ahead of us. Because you see, we find another beautiful promise in the Word of God:

"Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter 3:8 (NKJV)

Our minds have a hard time wrapping themselves around the idea of eternity, but it cannot be compared to our seconds, minutes, and hours. So, even if I lived another 100 years, and Jesus tarried in His return, my Grandma would only have been with Jesus a few hours before I joined her!

So as you remember your loved ones, hold on to your spiritual hope. And all the more - share your faith so others will have hope also, as we all look "for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13 (NKJV)

Copyright © Daphne Delay, used with permission

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