Losing a loved one is never easy … especially when it is unexpected. Having no hope that you’ll ever see them again is even worse. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 The Message (MSG) tells us, “And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus. And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.” Yes, we can have hope … if our loved ones died “in Christ” we can have the assurance that their death does not mean good-bye forever … it only means good-bye until we meet again … if we are “in Christ” as well. What does it mean to be “in Christ” you may ask? To be “in Christ” means to be in a relationship with Christ … it means someone has accepted the gift of salvation Jesus offered when he died on the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins. It means we are trusting Jesus alone to make us right with God (not our own “good works”). To be in Christ means to be “born again” … it means to be “born” into the family of God … where old things have passed away and all things become new. It means someone is no longer living their lives just for themselves to satisfy their own desires, but, instead, out of thankfulness for everything Jesus has already done for them, they are choosing – as an act of their free will – to live in the way the Bible teaches … for the new desires God puts in their hearts … the new desires that involve loving others as God has loved them … the new desire to live in a way that is pleasing to God and is beneficial in how they treat others as well. To be “in Christ” simply put, means to be saved. So, if your loved one who has died was “in Christ” when they died and you, now, (or before you die) are also “in Christ” you can have the hope and confidence that you will, indeed, one day meet your loved one again and it will be like one huge family reunion with the Master! Therefore, look to the timeless truths in these scriptures to give yourself and others the hope and comfort you need in your time of loss. And if you haven’t accepted the gift of salvation Jesus offers to everyone (yes everyone!) … or if you’ve backslidden away from him … don’t worry, you can trust in Jesus even now to make you right with God and can receive the gift he offers by praying a prayer for salvation such as this sample prayer:
Dear God, I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe Jesus died on the cross in my place. I believe He alone gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for my sin. I believe Jesus not only died for my sins, but was also raised again and is now living in heaven. I believe only Jesus can make me righteous before You. There’s nothing I could ever do to earn Your free gift. I repent of all my sins and ask You to make me new as I accept Your gift of salvation now. I ask Jesus to be both the Lord and Savior of my life. Come into my heart, fill me with Your Spirit, and help me to live for You. Thank You for saving my soul. In Jesus’ name, amen.