Death and Dying
I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope– 1 Thessalonians 4:13
As painful and tragic and sorrowful as death is, believers in Christ need not surrender their hope and joy in the midst of the grief.
Paul’s first hint that death is not the end is that he uses the word “sleep” to describe those who have passed. Sleep is nothing to dread: it is restful and it is temporary. And following the example of his Savior, Paul calls us to a realization of this true nature of death.
Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death is no longer the greatest enemy of God’s people. It is now a great friend, because it ushers us into the presence of God forever. As the hymnwriter reminds us,
It is not death to die, To leave this weary road, And midst the brotherhood on high To be at home with God.
The one then who grieves hopelessly at the death of a loved one, Paul implies, is not realistic, but ignorant. He or she is unaware (or forgetful) of the goodness and faithfulness and power of God. It is as if Paul is saying, “Wake up to the fact that your loved one is only sleeping!”
Are you ignorant of this truth yourself? Then take these words to heart — Jesus Christ has utterly conquered death and he will soon bring every one of us home to himself.