Saturday, August 1, 2020

Others Who Have No Hope

By Jim Faughn

    Please read the following words found in the English Standard Version of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 very carefully: 
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who do not have hope.
    I believe that most of us readily understand that the “sleep” being referred to here is the “sleep” of death. I believe it is also fairly obvious that the use of the word “brothers” means that these words are addressed to Christians.  
  • Does this verse teach us that Christians are not to grieve (mourn, sorrow, etc.) at all when a loved one passes from this life? 
  • Are Christians supposed to just act as though nothing had ever happened and go on with their lives? 
  • Does a Christian’s confidence in an eternal home make him or her immune to feelings of loss?
If you did, in fact, read that verse carefully, you should realize that the answer to those questions is, “NO.” The sorrow of a Christian is not to be “…as others who have no hope.” (In reality, it did not take a very careful reading to notice that, did it?)
    More often than I really care to remember, I’ve been in more homes, hospital rooms, nursing home rooms, etc. when death has taken a loved one from family members and friends. Sometimes death has occurred after a long and serious illness. Sometimes the death is sudden and unexpected. In all reality, no two deaths and no two families are ever exactly the same.
    However, I’ve noticed that many of the situations in which I’ve found myself can broadly fit into one of two categories. Both of these categories are linked to the fact that I’m a preacher (and an elder) and that I often get called on during trying times like this.
    I’ve been in situations when people just want a preacher around. Any “brand” will do. Often, these people are confused. In fact, “panic” might not be too strong a word. These people want somebody --- anybody --- that has some sort of religious credentials to calm them and assure them in some way. They may not even be aware of what way they have in mind. They just want a preacher around. His presence seems to have some sort of calming effect on them (sometimes).
    The other people I’ve been with are just as sad and feel their loss just as much as the first group. Depending on the circumstances, they may even be as confused as the people in the first group. Through tears they express words that convey their grief to the preacher and to one another.
    While, they also appreciate a preacher being with them, their actions and words convey a quiet confidence that the other group does not have. Their confidence is not dependent upon the presence of a preacher. Their confidence is in God and His promises.  
    It is my prayer that all of us could be a part of this second group of people. It is also my prayer that each of us will live our lives in such a way that those who are left behind can have that quiet confidence that is needed so much during very trying times.

- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

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