The Hope that is beyond has been weighted greatly on my mind recently. Where do you turn to when overcome with grief? Is there hope beyond? I believe with all my heart and mind that there is hope beyond. My dear auntie succumbed to her battle with terminal breast cancer a week ago. She was a beautiful, sweet natured and creative woman, who had already lost a son to leucemia and leaves behind 3 children and a husband. She was and is greatly loved. She will be greatly missed. The last weeks have been full of grief. However, it is a grief that is not everlasting, but one that has hope.
Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, did not want them to be uninformed about this very thing, a hope beyond, when he wrote them this letter that is referred to as First Thessalonians. Paul writes:
"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." 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14
When he writes here "...about those who are asleep..." this is referring to the dead just in the same way as Jesus explained Lazarus' death in John 11:11-15:
"After these things, he said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him .' The disciples said to Him, 'Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.' Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, 'Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'"
Jesus, here, describes death as a sleep, just as Paul does in 1 Thessalonians. Now, Paul goes on to say in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 that for those who believe that Jesus died and was resurrected that we have reason for a hope that is beyond death, and that we need not grieve as those in this world who do not have hope. Paul goes on to describe what he means by "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep":
"For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will decend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Paul meant these words for encouragement. That when we lose someone that is dear to us by the sleep of death, that there is hope beyond the grave. That one day very soon, Jesus will come again and the dead in Christ will rise and then those who remain will follow and forever we will be in heaven with the Lord. Once again, we will be able to hug our loved ones now asleep in the grave. Once again, we will see their smiles.
Dedicated to Mary Thompson (R.I.P 19th November, 2011)