Good Grief!

1 Thessalonians 4:18

Christians are not immune from grief. They suffer loss and feel the pain as deeply as anyone. What are the reasons for the power of grief?

First, we grieve because we are concerned over our departed loved one. Death is sin’s final blow, and we can’t help feeling, when we lose loved ones, that they have been deprived.

Paul declares that “The dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). They will meet the Lord before any of the living will.

But knowing this doesn’t put grief to an end. We are also concerned about ourselves. Our grieving can’t change anything as far as the departed is concerned, but the death of this person may leave us with quite a bit to work through.

Our grief also expresses our fear about our own destiny. Facing the death of a loved one means remembering that we are accountable for our lives. This consoling passage of Scripture should not obscure the dimension of judgment. In this very letter Paul speaks of “the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10 KJV), warns that it will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2), with “sudden destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Our society tries to keep us forgetting about death. And then someone we love dies, or maybe we have a close brush with death, and we realize then that we are not prepared. This is a hidden gift in our grief. It brings us face to face with death and eternity and beckons us to be prepared.

What is the answer to our grief? What are the sources of comfort?

The first source of comfort is that Jesus died and rose again. For those who are His, the day of wrath is transformed into the day of light and salvation.

The second source of comfort is that we have been, we are, and we shall always be, with our Lord. This is the overriding assurance of the Christian’s life. Those who die in Christ remain in Christ.

The third source of comfort is that we shall be together. There will be a final homecoming as we, and every believer, will “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). We shall be with our departed loved ones in Christ.

“Therefore, comfort one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). We thank God for Christian brothers and sisters who stand by us in our grief and know how to weep with those who weep.

Let us thank God that our grief experiences force us to pay attention to our deepest needs, and let us thank Him for comfort which is lasting, because it is based on a sure and certain hope.

Philip D. Needham, The War Cry


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