The Christians in the Macedonian town of Thessalonica were eagerly awaiting Jesus’ return, barely 20 years after his ascension to heaven. But their eager expectation of Jesus’ soon-to-happen second coming made them very anxious about those who among them who had died before Jesus had come back.
Paul wrote to them to encourage them, and gave them words to encourage one-another. As we grieve the loss of a dear sister in Christ this week, let’s encourage one another with these words too.
‘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 (ESV)