From God’s Perspective
by Max Lucado
“We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope” (Thessalonians 4:13 JB).
The Thessalonian church had buried her share of loved ones. And the apostle wanted the members who remained to be at peace regarding the ones who had gone ahead. Many of you have buried loved ones as well. And just as God spoke to them, he speaks to you.
If you’ll celebrate a marriage anniversary alone this year, he speaks to you.
If your child made it to heaven before making it to kindergarten, he speaks to you.
If you lost a loved one in violence, if you learned more than you want to know about disease, if your dreams were buried as they lowered the casket, God speaks to you.
He speaks to all of us who have stood or will stand in the soft dirt near an open grave. And to us he gives this confident word: “I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him all the Christians who have died” (1 Thess. 4:13–14 TLB).
God transforms our hopeless grief into hope-filled grief. How? By telling us that we will see our loved ones again.
Isn’t that what we want to believe? We long to know that our loved ones are safe in death. We long for the reassurance that the soul goes immediately to be with God. But dare we believe it? Can we believe it? According to the Bible we can.
Scripture is surprisingly quiet about this phase of our lives. When speaking about the period between the death of the body and the resurrection of the body, the Bible doesn’t shout; it just whispers. But at the confluence of these whispers, a firm voice is heard. This authoritative voice assures us that at death the Christian immediately enters into the presence of God and enjoys conscious fellowship with the Father and with those who have gone before.
Where do I get such ideas? Listen to some of the whispers:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the tw I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
(Phil. 1:21–23 NIV)
We don’t like to say good-bye to those we love. But if what the Bible says about heaven is true, and I believe it is, then the ultimate prayer, the ultimate answered prayer, is heaven.
It is right for us to weep, but there is no need for us to despair. They had pain here. They have no pain there. They struggled here. They have no struggles there. You and I might wonder why God took them home. But they don’t. They understand. They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.
For These Tough Times:
Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope and Healing
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Max Lucado