How it Ends

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

That you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (v. 13)

I wrote this devotional the morning after a friend died unexpectedly. As the initial shock gave way to resurrection hope, I wondered, “How do nonbelievers navigate such loss?” For the Thessalonians, their anxiety about the Christian dead was greater. Paul left them hurriedly (Acts 17) before he could teach about the resurrection of the dead. Their Greek philosophers spoke little that would bring comfort about life after death. The believers were truly panicked, thinking those who had died before Christ’s return would miss out.

Into that anxiety, Paul spoke words that became a creed. The words that follow “We believe” in verse 14 echo the teaching of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and of Paul, “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Just as Jesus died and rose again, all believers who die will rise again! This truth was so crucial that it became part of the Apostles’ Creed less than a century later, “I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

Paul also offers a glimpse of what the end will look like. There will be a loud announcement, the Christian dead will rise, and we who are alive will join them in the cloud of God’s glory. Even better, “we will always be with the Lord” (v. 17). What encouragement for the Thessalonians and for us! Friend, have you received Jesus as Lord? If so, your future is full of glory. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to comfort all who mourn.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.