We shall always be with the Lord.
Bridget left the hospital in tears. Her elderly father’s cancer had recurred—and this time it was terminal. All he could do now was accept palliative care to aid him in a peaceful death. “God has given me many good years,” he told his daughter. “I am ready to go home to our Lord.”
Bridget’s father could have taught believers in Thessalonica a thing or two. Paul’s preaching of the resurrection there had prompted the people to embrace the thought of their own resurrection at the end. But they took it a little too far and thought it was right around the corner. When some of them actually died, members of the community became upset Didn’t Jesus defeat death when he rose? they wondered. Then why do people still die? Rather than accept death as a natural process of life, they jumped to the conclusion that Jesus had triumphed over physical death as well as spiritual death.
Millennia of history have shown us that death still remains with us. But at the same time, Jesus has shown that it doesn’t have the final word. People die every day, but their souls are still in the hands of God. He is the one with the final say. And he is loving enough—and powerful enough—to promise us a full resurrection, body and soul, at the end.
Even with this teaching spelled out, though, it can still be hard to think about heaven. This is especially true if we are grieving the recent loss of a loved one. Maybe the best approach is to focus on Paul’s consoling words to the Thessalonians: “We shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). God is with you now. He was with you in all your past, and he will be with you throughout your future. Every day that you spend with him prepares you a little more for his gift of eternal life. It convinces you of his love a little more, and it gives him many opportunities to show you his mercy.
So cherish each moment that you have to spend with Jesus. And remember, the best is yet to come.
“Jesus, thank you for every moment I’m able to spend with you.”
Psalm 96:1, 3-5, 11-13
Word Among Us