In a small Midwestern town, a fierce ice storm raged. The howling of the frigid winds was suddenly joined by the piercing ringing of a telephone. In the wee hours of the morning, the phone call informed a family that they needed to come to the hospital immediately.
Because their car was not working, a police car took them to the hospital. As they walked into the hospital room, a far greater storm began to rage in their souls. Lying there on the hospital bed was my dad dead of an apparent heart attack. Seeing him dead, our world suddenly fell apart.
The immense sorrow of that time was accompanied by times of longing and dreaming that somehow, someday, I would see my dad again. But, our sorrow was without hope because none of us were believers at that time.
As I did for many years after my dad died in 1982, many in this world sorrow without hope for their dead loved ones. Praise God that He does not want believers to sorrow without hope for their believing loved ones who have died:
1Th 4:13 But 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.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
This passages teaches us that in order for us to sorrow not without hope for our loved ones who have died, four things must be true.
1. We must believe that Jesus died and rose again (1 Thess. 4:14a).
2. Our loved ones must believe that Jesus died and rose again, so that when they die, they will be asleep in Jesus (1 Thess. 4:14b; cf. Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 15:6, 18, 51).
3. We as believers must not be ignorant concerning those who are asleep in Jesus (1 Thess. 4:13a).
4. We as believers must comfort one another concerning the dead in Christ so that we will not sorrow for them without hope (1 Thess. 4:18).
Brethren, let us sorrow not without hope for our loves ones who sleep in Jesus!