Brothers we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope. 1 Thess. 4:13
David and I had a conversation with a visiting minister, a few years back, discussing a season we had just come through, with many of our colleagues, through sickness, moving to heaven. We had fought the good fight alongside of them, we had endured in faith to the end, but ultimately their battle for life was lost.
In this conversation, the minister stated “the problem with you word of faith people is that you have no theology about death.” While admitting many might not, David and I heartily disagreed about ourselves and those we were connected with. Faith is the first and last response required in fighting against the last enemy to be destroyed. Facing death for ourselves or others is nothing to be apologized nor diminished when it appears the battle is lost, because truthfully it isn’t. We win Christ, regardless of the outcome.
As overseers in the body of Christ, our heart is to engage in others battles when called on to support their place of faith. Encouraging a hope, we hold tightly to our trust in God knowing through Him we overcome. To Live is Christ but to die is gain.
Our terminology speaks much to the way we view death and while there is a very natural loss, there is no cessation of life to the spirit of man. While it is our loss it is another's gain.. It’s a move. It’s a personal graduation. It’s a crossing over a finish linethat for a child of God always ends in victory. Oh death where is your sting, oh grave where is your victory? Death is the last enemy to be defeated. Hebrews states in chapter 11 the heroes of faith, ALL died in faith. They had not received their promise but looked to an eternal reward. Even so, we understand that the best way to pass from this life into eternity is in faith. Eternal life is the ultimate promise and reward of our life of faith.
Paul wrote, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope, but we do grieve. Jesus wept. We do experience a very personal loss. Loss is not lost, but certainly feels that way. There are so many emotions that an individual goes through it is impossible to set any kind of standard for grieving. Everyone must find their own way through to the place of rest and peace. Paul’s admonition is that we do not lose sight of the hope we have about heaven and spending eternity in the presence of God.
We weep with those who weep and we allow them to set the standard of processing their loss. We are helpers of their faith, while they find their way through the dark moments. Words are not always necessary but love demonstrated in acts of kindness are always appreciated. For those who are living in the first few days of separation we can only trust God to bring comfort through the Holy Spirit, assured that we are never alone, never helpless and never abandoned.
We grieve, but we don’t grieve like those who have no hope because in the alone moments, we move to the God of all hope who fills us with all joy and peace in believing that we might abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.