Saturday, April 16, 2016
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 KJV).
This study is dedicated to the loving memory of those who have “graduated to glory!”
A few days back, a Christian sister and family friend graduated to glory at age 57. Nearly three decades ago, this lady planned a baby shower at our former local church when Mom was pregnant for me. About 10 years ago, the lady’s health gradually declined. An autoimmune disorder had greatly weakened her muscles, keeping her bedridden for the last several years. Her health drastically declined in recent days. Some may say, “She lost her battle.” Nay, she won! She is suffering no more. Some may say, “Poor woman, she died!” Nay, she is “with Christ,” which is “far better” (Philippians 1:23). As her husband said at her funeral, “I am at peace. I know she is in heaven… walking.”
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22). Going all the way back to Genesis chapter 3, and right up to our present-day, our world has been plagued with pain and suffering, illness and death. “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (verse 23). Even God’s people suffer. Christian friend, in case you have not noticed yet, your body is aging, wearing down. Jesus Christ may have redeemed your soul from hell, but He has yet to redeem your body from the grave!
Today’s Scripture provides solace for us who are bereaved of Christian loved ones. Due to the intense persecution leveled against the Christians in Thessalonica, those “sleeping in Jesus” had evidently been executed for their faith in Christ. Their physical bodies were lying in graves, having the appearance of people sleeping. But, their souls were still alive. Paul affirmed Jesus Christ will bring them “with Him” when He returns for us at the Rapture! We will see them again, in God’s own time. For now, they are safe in His arms, and we are safe in His. ‘Tis sufficient, saints, ‘tis sufficient!