Thursday, April 12


This morning I read 1 Thessalonians. I read it specifically because I wanted to read chapter 4 for some encouragement.

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. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. ~1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

I noticed a few things this morning when I read this particular part of chapter 4. First, I was reminded that it's okay to grieve; it's just that our grief is not one without hope because we know that there is more than this life here on Earth. Second, the Lord himself will be the one to wake those who are sleeping in Him. I think that will be such a powerful, triumphant moment; when Jesus comes to reclaim from Satan those who have fallen under the power of death, when Jesus once again defies Satan's strongest weapon. Finally, I know that we Christians often look to this passage for comfort when someone we love has died because it gives us hope that we may live with them again. But I noticed in this read-through that Paul makes a point of saying that when that day comes, then we will always be with God. That is the ultimate comfort-- to be with God forever.

Tonight as I was thinking about this passage again, I decided to search for other Bible verses on hope to remind myself exactly what that hope is that we have that allows us not to grieve as those who are without hope. Here are a few I found that were encouraging to me.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. ~Hebrews 10:23

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began. ~Titus 1:1,2

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope-- the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. ~Titus 2:11-13

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~Romans 5:3-5

Wednesday, April 11

Life is Not Good

This afternoon, I woke up after having worked last night, and I pulled out the top t-shirt in my drawer to wear. But as I looked at it, I realized I couldn't wear it. Not today. It was an orange, happy t-shirt that says "Good Vibes Life is Good." And as I eyed the shirt, my stomach started to churn.

Life is not good. At least not life on this Earth. Life is messed up, full of sin and pain and things that make no sense to me. This life is one in which mothers must lay their own children to rest, fathers must lower their own sons and daughters into their graves.

And to be completely honest, I'm so weary of it. I don't want to cry any more tears for mothers and fathers whose arms and hearts are empty. I don't want to weep anymore for the loss of those who are dear to me and the people I love. Sometimes I feel like my heart just can't take any more blows.

In the last few months Satan has been attacking with vigor. I have had missionary friends bury their 6-month old baby boy. In addition, some friends of theirs just lost their 3-month old child. Other missionaries who work at a hospital I used to work in had to rush their 9-month old back to the States because of an unknown illness (although, I've just had news that he is fully recovered, praise God).

My dear friend who teaches at a small Christian elementary school just lost one of her seven year-old students last night in a tragic accident. The girl, Marissa, was a twin. She had two parents who loved her, 4 siblings, and many friends. I can't imagine the pain and ache that her community is feeling.

Life is not good.

But then, as I looked at my "Life is Good" t-shirt and felt ill, I remembered that even if life is not good, God is. And there is more than this life; more than this life full of sin and pain and things I don't understand. There is Eternal Life-- a Life in which mothers and fathers will never feel the void, the ache of losing a child. Where Love and all its warmth and goodness will never again be tainted with painful good-byes. A Life in which God will wipe away every hot tear that trickles down our cheeks, searing our hearts with pain. A Life in which God will finally, once and for all, completely heal the pain in our hearts that no words of comfort can remove.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." ~Revelation 21: 1, 3