More than wishful thinking
…God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
1 Thessalonians 4:14 (ESV)
We are used to hearing the word ‘hope’ used within the context of wishful thinking. For example, ‘We hope everything works out for you’ or, ‘I hope you get the job’ maybe, ‘I hope you feel better soon.’ The person is expressing a desire for something to happen but at the same time has no means to make it happen. However, when hope is mentioned in the Bible it is quite different. It is an assurance of something that hasn’t happened yet, but it will.
We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: ‘But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.’
The promise here is that we will see our loved ones again even if they die. It is not wishful thinking. Instead, it is so certain that it is something that informs the way believers live. We can count on it. This hope changes the way we live right now. This is hope founded on Jesus’s death and resurrection, and the Greek used in the phrase ‘we believe’ (v.14), is best translated as a ‘condition of fact or reality.’
In other words, when hope is used in the Bible it can be thought of in the same way as a fact. God has the power to make these things happen and he won’t be thwarted. He keeps his promises. There can be no keener grief felt than for the loss of a loved one, and it is a tremendous comfort to know, despite the present pain, that we will see them again. It doesn’t mean we don’t grieve. We know that is part of life and it is a necessary and healthy, albeit painful, part. But we are comforted by the knowledge we will be reunited with our loved ones in the future. God will make it so.
Our loving Father, thank you for the comforting words to be found in the pages of your Bible. We have the hope, the calm assurance, of seeing our loved ones again when they die. You have promised this, and you have the means to carry out all that you promise. In the meantime, Father, comfort those who grieve with your boundless love. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Study by Jackie Mill
About the writer:
Jackie Mill is a minister in Grace Communion International and Co-Regional Pastor for Scotland, Ireland, and Northern England.
GCI, Linlithgow. For details email the local congregational contact below.
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