Today I had the privilege of attending the memorial service of a well-loved, godly man. It was encouraging to hear of this man’s many years serving our Lord. It was also wonderful to hear the joyous laughter in the fellowship hall after the service as people shared stories from his life. Today truly was a celebration.
Yes, we’ll miss having this dear man in our church family, but today there was joy, peace, and comfort written on so many of the faces of the people attending. Paul says in I Thessalonians 4:18, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I know “these words” were and are the source of comfort for days like this – and really, for all days!
So what are “these words”? The previous paragraph in Scripture teaches what happens to those who die “in Christ”. You see there isn’t a Bible verse that reads, “Say good-bye to one another”. Instead, Paul says in I Thessalonians 4:13, don’t grieve as those who have no hope. As Christians we are to handle the death of a loved one differently than the lost world. I think it is here that the reality of our faith is tested and hopefully it shines forth as a bright light for the world to look upon with wonder, “Where do they get their comfort?” Paul says our comfort is in “these words”:
“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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:15-18.
What other promises in Scripture give you comfort regarding the death of a loved one?