1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – What Happens After We Die?

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Blue sky, clouds, sun illuminating the cross in the sky

We die. Then what? For those who believe God’s Word, we have an assurance of something much greater than we can even comprehend. I’m not so sure we’ll meet St. Peter at the pearly gates and be asked questions for admittance as we often see depicted in cartoons. Our text today gives us a glimpse of what will happen to those who have died when Jesus returns.

I listened to a wonderful interview of Joni Eareckson Tada about heaven. In case you’re not familiar with Joni, she’s been a paraplegic for over fifty years following a spinal cord injury as a young girl. I have always admired her and hope to meet her one day. Her faith is so inspiring. I put a link to that interview in my Facebook group, Reflections-Devos on the Go.

What Paul is talking about here to the new believers in Thessalonica gives them hope for the future. None of us know when Jesus is coming back. We don’t know if we’ll be alive to see him descend or if we’ll have died and be one of the ones resurrected that day. In either case, we know that death is not the end. There is more to come.

“Then we will be with the Lord forever.” What a promise! I cling to this truth when things look drear in the world around me. I see so much sadness, corruption, sin, loneliness, oppression, faithlessness, greed, (I’m going to stop now), having Jesus return to complete the process of redemption sounds fantastic. Whether I see that in my lifetime or not, I am confident it will happen and that I will one day be with the Lord forever.

Many people fear death. It’s not surprising. It’s a total unknown. Yes, we’ve heard of people who have died and been resuscitated. For me, those accounts are always intriguing. One of my favorite books of such an account was “Heaven is for Real” written by Todd Burpo. In fact, I may just need to read that one again one of these days. Todd recounts his young son’s experience while visiting heaven. I can’t even imagine losing a young child, only to have them brought back to life, and down the road telling you they met Jesus in person!

If you’ve lost a loved one, you know the pain and agony we feel as being those “left behind.” It’s hard. Paul knew it was hard, and that’s why he shared this portion of his letter.  He said, “So encourage each other with these words.” As I write this, today is my mom’s 88th birthday, her 28th in heaven. What does that look like for her? How do they celebrate?

We can speculate and dream all day long. I just know that living with Jesus forever sounds like a happily ever after to me. Take some time today to thank God for his wonderful promises and reflect on how these verses bring you encouragement.

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray … Lord, I love my life, but I love you more. I know that you have created me for a purpose. Help me to stay focused on that mission and reveal for me the steps you want me to take today. I can feel your love, the peace you give, and I celebrate with joy your presence inside me. May I shine brightly for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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