'But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.'
In recent days it has been amazing to witness the responses to the death of Queen Elizabeth. People from all over the world and all walks of life have paid tribute to her and the life that she lived. World leaders, celebrities and the general public quickly took to social media in order to publicly praise her character and devotion. Even many who oppose the idea of a monarchy had kind words for this particular monarch.
It was also amazing to witness the sheer number of Christians posting and writing about her Christian faith. I was shown a video where someone said they heard her say that she hoped to see the Lord return, that she might cast her crown before Christ! While so many of the responses have been kind, heartfelt and charitable, the response of those believers have reminded us of a hope beyond death. The queen herself seemed very confident about where she was going and seemed sure of this hope beyond the grave. There has been grief over her passing but those of us who know the Lord, know that this is not the end.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he wanted to comfort them and bring them hope. It seems they had questions about the the Lord's return, about how and when it would happen. He wants them to be sure of these things so that they might have hope. The Thessalonians were clearly concerned about what had happened to deceased brothers and sisters. Paul assured them that they had gone to be with the Lord and would return with him to reign here.
So this means that we do not grieve as others do. Those who do not know the Lord do not have the hope of what is to come. As Christians we grieve the loss of our brothers and sisters. You may already be thinking of those who you have known that are now with the Lord. We miss them, we grieve them. It's worth noting here that it is right to grieve. It is not somehow more spiritual to act as is nothing has happened or to try to brush it off. It is right to grieve but we do not grieve without hope. When we are in the Lord and when those who have died have gone to be with him, we have hope. A hope that goes beyond this life.