Paul addressed the church he began in Thessalonika with the epistle known as 1 Thessalonians. This is the same city he was urged to travel to in Acts 16 that was crying out to him through the Holy Spirit. According to Matthew Henry, this was the first epistle he wrote to any of the churches being written in 51 A.D. The significance of this being Paul’s first letter of endorsement and encouragement to any of the churches he started and important to understanding his approach to establishing them.
Paul shares from his heart about how the church began and their progress but the enduring, most memorable chapter is the fourth. My wife and I heard about an acquaintance who is a Christian and who was reacting very badly to the loss of a loved one. Yes, the Bible says grieve with those who grieve, but in the fourth chapter we find words that describe a faith-filled reaction to the loss of a saint. There may be instances in these current times of calamity where some may sleep in the Lord. What will our reaction be? We are reminded that this situation was not an emergency in Heaven. The Father was not taken aback by the virus.
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
There is no clear reaction by anyone in a loss. When we lost our mother some years ago, my immediate reaction was that of sheer terror and shock. She was an absolute sainted woman. Once reality sets in, we have a chance to react knowing we will see our loved ones again! No one can say what their first reaction to a catastrophic loss will be but in this we have been assured:
15 For we say this to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are still alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede [into His presence] those [believers] who have fallen asleep [in death]. 16 For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord! 18 Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words [concerning our reunion with believers who have died].
If we are not resting in His everlasting arms, are we flailing about on our own? Are we like these described in James 1:6b Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. 7 Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. [VOICE]
God is still seated on the throne; we’re going to be alright!