Goodbye for Now
You do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
My granddaughter Allyssa and I have a regular routine we go through when we say goodbye. We wrap our arms around each other and begin to loudly wail with dramatic sobs for about twenty seconds. Then we step back and casually say, “See ya,” and turn away. Despite our silly practice, we always expect that we will see each other again—soon.
But sometimes the pain of separation from those we care about can be difficult. When the apostle Paul said farewell to the elders from Ephesus, “They all wept as they embraced him . . . . What grieved them most was [Paul’s] statement that they would never see his face again” (Acts 20:37–38).
The deepest sorrow, however, comes when we are parted by death and say goodbye for the last time in this life. That separation seems unthinkable. We mourn. We weep. How can we face the heartbreak of never again embracing the ones we have loved?
Still . . . we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Paul writes of a future reunion for those who “believe that Jesus died and rose again” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). He declares: “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel,” and those who have died, along with those who are still alive, will be united with our Lord. What a reunion!
And—best of all—we will be forever with Jesus. That’s an eternal hope.
The Bible speaks of hope as a robust confidence in the purposes and power of God. First Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Our hope is rooted in Christ’s conquering of death on our behalf. Romans 15:4 adds, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
The encouragement of the Scriptures gives us hope as we see how God faithfully deals with His children. He is “the God of hope” (v. 13), who encourages us to trust Him with whatever we might face. And He is our hope as we look forward to our future reunion with loved ones who have gone before us.
For more on biblical hope, get the free download of the Discovery Series booklet Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear at discoveryseries.org/q0733.