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If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
1 Corinthians 15:19
As I left a funeral home one day after a memorial service for a good friend, one of the directors of the funeral home remarked to me, "You know, there's a big difference between the funerals of those who are Christians and those who are unsaved." I have never forgotten those words. What a testimony to the reality of the Christian faith. Here was a man who had witnessed hundreds of funerals and had been impressed by the striking difference between the behavior of true believers in a time of sorrow and those who had no faith. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that the saved should not sorrow like worldly individuals who have "no hope." The reason for Paul's admonition is found in the following verses, where the apostle describes the day when "...the Lord himself shall descend from heaven...and the dead in Christ shall rise first... and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..." (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
Let's remember however, that even believers grieve when death separates them from their loved ones. After all, when human ties are broken it does hurt and tears are bound to be shed. But notice Paul does not say that we do not sorrow at all. Rather, he declares that we "...sorrow not, even as others who have no hope." The grief is lessened and the heartache softened in the realization that those who died in Christ go into the presence of the Lord Jesus, Himself, and that day is coming when with glorified resurrected bodies all believers shall in one great, glad and grand reunion rise to meet the Lord in the air. No wonder Paul concludes this passage by saying, "Wherefore, comfort one another with these words."
As we celebrate and continue to celebrate the Easter Season, we remember the hope that the Savior gives to us.
Louis Abel is pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church