Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, NIV
Those who have “fallen asleep,” are Christians who have died. Most of us have someone dear to us who has died—a child, husband, wife, son, daughter, friend at school, neighbor, or co-worker—and we live with a deep and lasting sense of loss.
So much of your life and joy was bound up with that person, and suddenly he or she is gone. Life goes on, but you are left with a void, an ongoing grief, a loss that can never be replaced.
The death of a loved one raises so many questions. What is happening to them? Will you see them again? Will you know them? The Bible tells us little about the immediate situation of those who are not Christians. But we are told some things about our Christian loved ones who are with the Lord. “We do not want you to be ignorant…or to grieve like [those]…who have no hope.”
Notice that the Scripture about the state of Christian loved ones who have died comes in two parts, and both end on a note of encouragement.
- Therefore, encourage each other with these words. (4:18)
- Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up. (5:11)
So the purpose of what we are told here is to encourage believers. It is not simply to satisfy our curiosity, but to bring comfort.
Has someone dear to you recently died? How has it affected you emotionally? How has it affected your faith? Your prayer life?