We Grieve with Hope

November 1, 2020
Pastor Charles
Scripture Reading:  1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

          Today’s message comes from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian congregation. Tradition says that this letter is the first written document in the New Testament. This letter may have been written from Corinth around AD 50-51 immediately after the Jerusalem Council of AD 49-50 as recorded in Acts 15.  When Paul was pastoring the church at Thessalonica, he told them about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and how Jesus had defeated death, giving Christians the promise of eternal life. As time passed, the people in the Thessalonica church began to die, just as happens today.  They were concerned because they thought that as believers they would not die since Jesus had defeated death.  They believed the promise of eternal life for all believers.   So, why were members of the church dying?   Were they notfaithful enough?   Today’s scripture reading is Paul’s response to these concerns.

 Most people grieve the loss of a loved one.  This grief slowly goes away as time passes, especially when you believe that one day during the end of time you will meet with your beloved one in eternity. More than 35 years ago now, my parents died and it’s now more than 20 years after the passing of my grandmother who raised me. Although their death was painful to me and my siblings, my hope is to meet with them in heaven during the end of time.    

We Christians, have hope.   Of course, we experience loss when a loved one dies.   But along with our loss, there is also hope in eternal life.    And this hope reduces our grief.   We recover from grief sooner, because of our hope in the resurrection from the dead.

So, what happens when a Christian believer dies?  At death our bodies and our souls separate.   Our bodies are then buried or cremated.   It really doesn’t matter what happens to our bodies after we die.  But our souls, our memories, our preferences, our talents, our identities go immediately to heaven.   There, in heaven, we live with Jesus until the resurrection.  Then in the resurrection, Jesus returns to earth.    God recreates our bodies from the dust of the earth.   Our souls are joined to our resurrected bodies.  And we live again, for eternity.   We live together with each other and Jesus in the Kingdom of God on earth forever.  This is our Christian hope.

All Christians should be encouraged by all of this.   Our future, as believers, is assured.    We will go to heaven when we die.   We will be resurrected from the dead when Jesus returns to Earth.   Never doubt this truth for yourselves and your loved ones.  All who believe in Jesus Christ will be with him in heaven and when he returns we will be resurrected with him to eternal life.

Paul’s purpose in writing this to the Thessalonians was to comfort them as they grieved the deaths of loved ones.   And we too are comforted by these words when our loved ones die.   As Christians, we are so filled with hope in the resurrection that our grief will be short and replaced in anticipation of a glorious future.   Our grief is replaced by hope in the resurrection from the dead.


Friends, people who believe in Jesus have the hope of everlasting life in the resurrection from the dead.   As we celebrate those who have gone before us, today during this worship, be comforted that we will meet with our beloved in eternity. Let’s encourage one another to believe and hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Amen.   

Let us pray; Eternal God, our help in every time of trouble, send your Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen us, that we may have hope of life eternal and trust in your goodness and mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.