My wife and I were enjoying another one of our post Christmas trips, this time in West Virginia. We had just finished a wonderful hike in the gorgeous Hawks State Park. As we were driving along a narrow winding road on the side of a mountain, marveling at God’s beauty all around us, we received the tragic news of the sudden loss of one of our church family members. My wife started crying and I was stunned, as a flood of emotions and questions filled my head. We went from feeling joyous to sorrow in the snap of a finger. I fought to keep my composure to avoid driving off the mountain. How?! Why?! When?! How is his wife holding up?! So many questions, so little answers.
Sadly, it’s moments like these that remind us how temporary our time is here. There are things that happen we will never truly understand. Questions that may never be answered. All of us have been there because all of us live in this fallen world. The loss of relatives, friends, and in this case, church family. Tragedy and loss are never easy, even when we know their ultimate outcome.
Their ultimate outcome. That simple phrase means one of two things and it’s the difference between those who follow Jesus Christ and those who don’t. Although we experience pain and grief during a loss of a loved one, we do not mourn like those who have no hope. There’s the separation between Christians and a lost world. Consider the words of The Apostle Paul to the believers in Thessalonica after starting a church there:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV)
13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Notice Paul says “fallen asleep.” To an unbelieving world, it is death, but for a believer in Christ, it is not death, but simply like laying down for a nap and waking up in glory. That’s the difference. That is our hope. That is the peace and contentment we live by. So make time in this hectic and frantic world to enjoy each and every day with your loved ones, knowing that they are a gift from our amazing and glorious God. When that tragic day comes and we mourn the loss this side of heaven, take solace in knowing those who believe in Christ, like our dear church family member, simply fell asleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus!❤️