There is an expression in Spanish that says, “Hope never dies.” Some religions actually teach that whatever you imagine will be your reality, which is the basis of postmodernism.
The only way to know what is going to happen beyond the grave is to listen to Someone who has been there and returned to tell us about it.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, Paul is teaching about what happens after death, as he wrote, “We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (1 Thes 4:13NLT). Aren’t you glad we can know for certain?
Since this command is in the present tense, it is meant to be an ongoing encouragement, not a momentary, after-the-fact word of optimism. The idea is that we are constantly anticipating the parting of this life to be present with the Lord.
Paul wrote, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). This “encouragement” should take place long before the incident occurs; thus we are to be intellectually and emotionally preparing each other.
The believer in Christ is to constantly anticipate and celebrate this homecoming welcome. Peter described it this way: “Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11NLT). This theme is to be part of our regular conversations, as well as our worship and songs.
The original word for encourage means “to aid, help, [or] comfort” with the idea of beseeching or entreating someone to be glad and to rejoice about a coming reality. Death is not the end of our existence; rather, it is the beginning of our unending life with Christ.
Believers wondered about their departed friends who had put their faith in Christ: would they be raised as well? Paul assured his readers that “the dead in Christ” will be resurrected first, followed by an amazing event in which all living believers would be transformed instantly into their glorified bodies without ever dying; then they would be taken up together to rendezvous with Christ in the air.
This is the “blessed hope” for those who are alive when Jesus returns. Paul lived “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). No believer will be left behind. Can you cry out from your heart, “Come Lord Jesus”?
“Heavenly Father, what a celebration Your children have to look forward to! Thank You for that promise. Help me to always anticipate Your return and encourage others to live as if this were their last day on earth.”