This past weekend, our family was in Moorhead, MN for the funeral of Jenilee’s grandma. Grandma Ruth was 87 years old when she passed away, and she was one of the most generous and spunky human beings I have ever known. It was great getting to be a part of her life for the past 8 years in various capacities and at family gatherings.
It was during the process of this weekend that my mind was drawn to this week’s topic of Eternity. Death always seems to bring out that very reality that many of us often push out of our minds and try not to think about as much. When we attend a funeral, read an obituary, or hear the news of the death of someone, we are ultimately met with the reality of our own mortality. It is inescapable, and many people go to great lengths to prolong the inevitable, harsh reality of life in this world: death. Every day, many of us take numerous precautions to ensure our survival and the survival of those around us: we eat food, drink water, buckle our seat belts, look both ways before crossing the street, we get sleep, we don’t take unnecessary risks that might lead to extreme injury, we avoid situations that could cause harm, and the list can go on.
For many people, the driving factor behind these actions could simply be that they want to live as long and as well as possible, and who can blame them? However, for others, these actions can be driven by an unknown of what comes next? It is one of the age-old questions of humanity: What happens to us after we die? Is there an afterlife? Is there something beyond this present world and my time in it? This is a pressing question and a pressing issue for many. And yet, it is this question that has an answer in the heartbeat of the Christian faith.
I was reminded this past weekend that, even though it is always sad to lose a loved one and close family member, we have hope beyond the grave as believers in Christ. Through His victory, won for us at Calvary, death has been defeated on our behalf and Christ’s victory is now ours, His resurrection is now ours, and His hope is ours. Our view of death and eternity is shaped entirely differently than many in this world, and it is this hope that we are invited to communicate and encourage others with, that they too may see God’s amazing gift to us in eternity.
The Apostle Paul reminds us of this very fact in 1 Thessalonians 4 where he writes: 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
May each of us be encouraged by the promise of our Lord and Savior that gives us hope for an eternity in His presence, in His house: our forever Home.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette