“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…Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (I Thessalonians 4:13-14, 17)
Psalm 116:15 says that the death of his saints is precious in his sight. This past week, God beheld a beautiful sight in the death of Jan McDonough. It is good for us to experience the sadness and grief of the loss of our dear friend and sister in Christ. Yet, that is not the end of our emotions. Mixed with it is a sense of wonder that she is now seeing Jesus face to face. This is a beautiful thing. She left her cancer ridden body and awoke to her faith now made sight.
We grieve, but we do not grieve without hope. What is our hope in now? It is not shallow sentiments by saying that she’s in a better place. Our hope is not in merely saying that we are glad her suffering is now over. Our hope is in God’s Word. We take hope in the fact that Jesus died and rose again and because of that we who trust in Jesus; though we die, yet will we live.
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not only forgive us of our sins, although that is amazing. Paul reminds us here that because of Jesus’ perfect life, agonizing death, and glorious resurrection, we have a hope that we will be with him forever in heaven. Heaven! A place where there will be no more cancer-ravaged bodies or souls that have to fight sin. Heaven! A place where we will have no more pain and we will be in the presence of Jesus.
Jan McDonough sat in these rows. She sang with us. She prayed with us. She heard the Bible preached with us. And now she is seeing Jesus face to face. Yes, we are to grieve with Ed in the loss of Jan. Yet, we are to hope because the best is yet to come. And our hope is not because of something we’ve read on a nice Hallmark card. Our hope is in the unshakeable truths of God’s Word. The truth that we have in I Thessalonians 4:13-14 is unshakeable.
Come before God this morning and confess your sins. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension paid the debt of our sins and conquered the grave. This is not earned. This is given to those who trust in Jesus. Those who trust in Jesus can sing (as we will soon) it is not death to die.
It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die
It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore