Thursday, April 14, 2011

Will We See Our Deceased Loved Ones Again?

Will we see our deceased loved ones again?  This is a tough question, but Paul seems to offer us an affirmative answer in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Paul appears to be addressing a concern of some in the church at Thessalonica about those who had died in their congregation.  He begins by saying, "we do not want you to be uninformed...about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope" (verse 13).  Then he states later, "...God will bring with him those have fallen asleep in Jesus" (verse 14).  He concludes, "we...will be caught up together with them...to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord" (verse 17).

The implication of this passage is that we will definitely see our loved ones who are in Christ once again.  Further it seems to imply that will have some recognition of them.  After all, Paul's reasoning is addressing the question of why people grieve by suggesting we will be together once more.  While Paul does not articulate, 'yes you'll see them again and know who they are.' his entire discussion seems to be going in that direction.

There is another important part of this passage a person should consider.  That is the phrase, "so that you do not grieve as do the rest who have no hope" (verse 13, NASU).  Paul does not say that Christians should have no grief.  Rather he is pointing out that Christians should not grieve in the same manner as those who have no hope.  His reason for the distinction is that as Christians we have a hope of being reunited with our loved ones and with Christ for an eternity.

Those who deny Christ or are atheists do not have a hope in the resurrection.  Since there is not a hope of a resurrection, there is not a possibility of seeing a loved one again.  This adds to the grief of a non-Christian.  In this line of thinking when a person dies that is all there is with no more chances to see the one they love.  With that being said, Paul does not deny a Christian should grieve, merely the manner in which one grieves.

Grief is a natural emotion.  Dr. Kubler-Ross in her classic work On Death and Dying details her observations and conclusions of the emotions faced by terminally ill patients.  Her findings are often extended to the families of the recently deceased.  She found that when faced with death a person experiences grief in moments of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

People generally tend to experience denial or moments of disbelief that a loved one has in fact died.  At other moments, we seem to bargain with God or fate as away of avoiding the reality of one's passing.  We can become angry with God, others, or ourselves.  At this time we want to blame someone for our loved one's death and have anger that things weren't done differently to avoid the death.  At other times the pain that comes with the reality of death drives us to moments of depression.  Finally we reach a point of accepting that our loved one is gone from this life.  We acknowledge that our life continues, even though it may be different, now. 

As Christians, we need to recognize that we will likely encounter these emotions at different times.  We should not feel guilty for having these emotions, they are natural.  The difference for Christians is that we have the hope of knowing we will see our loved one again.  But, as Christian we also have an obligation to comfort each other.  In this same passage Paul commands, "comfort one another with these words" (verse 18, NASU).  Christianity works when Christians spend time helping one another and reminding each other of the resurrection and hope that is there.  It's okay to grieve, but remember something better awaits.

1 comment:

  1. I have just experienced a death and I , although I don't want to die at this time, I am eager to see my love ones again. What a wonderful time it will be.I must believe this is true and oh how grateful I am.

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