200 families received devastating news, their family members had died. Oddly enough, they were still very much alive. As it turns out, Australia’s Austin Hospital accidentally faxed death notices to the families of two hundred patients. Thankfully, with some sincere apologies the families were understanding and forgiving of the mishap.
There is no telling the immense rollercoaster of grief these families experienced. Certainly this would have been tragic for anyone to go through. However, some people would have handled this situation much better than others. In fact, Scripture talks about a group of people who actually handle grief better. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.”
To put it simply, the people who do not handle grief well are those who “have no hope.” Verse 14 shows us those without hope are those who do not believe in Jesus and His sacrifice. These are people who do not believe in an eternal afterlife. In contrast, Christians are to be people of hope. The question is, hope in what? Hope in heaven. Hope that Jesus’ sacrifice will bring us into heaven. Hope that our faithful friends and family will be in heaven and we can see them again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Perhaps our world is rubbing off on us. Too often Christians today grieve like those “without hope.” We frantically worry about the physical lives of ourselves and our loved ones. If we truly believe “this world is not our home,” then let’s stop worrying and grieving like those without hope and seek to be less attached to this physical life.
For our world, death is the ultimate end and the final goodbye. This shouldn’t be the mindset, especially for Christians. The truth is, death is a victory for our faithful loved ones. Death isn’t the end; it’s merely a new beginning. Death then becomes a motivation for us to live faithfully and see our loved ones again. And ultimately, death is but a short pause before we see each other again.
On a subject normally so gloomy, there are few thoughts more comforting than this. Certainly this is why 1 Thessalonians 4:18 ends the discussion saying, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Let’s remember Paul’s words and be comforted by this message. Then, let’s live our lives as people of hope.