One of my favorite Bible verses comes from Paul’s first letter to the congregation in Thessalonica. In chapter 4 Paul is reminding them of what he taught them about how to live a Godly life. (I love how in verse 11 he tells them to mind their own business.) Starting in verse 13 he changes the subject somewhat. I often wonder if Paul’s words in the rest of this chapter are addressing a specific question they had asked him. Or if some members of the congregation had died in the interval since his visit. He says:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who have died, so that you may not grieve like other people who have no hope.1 Thessalonians 4:13
This verse is often misinterpreted to mean that Christians should not grieve. That idea causes much guilt in the minds and hearts of believers who are missing a loved one. Remember, Jesus said directly, “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV). What Paul is telling his readers is that God blesses His believers with hope. We mourn those who have died because we miss them in this life. But, we have the hope and promise of eternal life.
This morning I read a quote in a devotional that expressed this hope in a wonderful way:
The beautiful truth, for those who are followers of Christ, is that the loved ones who have gone before us are not in our past, they are in our future.From Hope Remains by Summer Gordon
Ms. Gordon and her husband lost their five-year-old son when he was hit by a distracted driver while the boy was riding his bike. They experienced the same terrifying grief and pain that we have, sweet grieving parent.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that I read this quote just when I needed it. This past week I have been mourning all the things that should have been happening in Rachel’s life since her wedding day on February 10th, 2017. I usually write my weekly blog post on Fridays so I have a couple of days to refine it before publication on Monday morning. Yesterday words wouldn’t come to me. I prayed for inspiration. Apparently, God said “wait for it.” (I need to learn to pray for patience, too.)
This morning God reminded me that — while it’s okay to relive memories, to mourn “should have beens,” to miss my daughter’s presence in the here and now – I shouldn’t dwell on the past. We can’t go back, and frankly, I’m not sure I’d want to. But, oh how glorious it is to hope, to believe, to KNOW that Rachel and so many others I miss, are in my future.
And my future has no end.
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