Speaker: Jerry Cisar
Hopelessness is a common human experience in the face of death. Melanie Greenberg, in Psychology Today, says, “The death or loss of a loved one, especially a beloved parent, spouse, or child, is one of the most profound losses humans can experience.” That was true when Paul wrote the Thessalonians, and it is true today.
In Thessalonian culture, no one was likely to say, “They are in a better place now,” or, “God needed them in heaven.” Those are ideas that, though they are not biblically prescribed responses, are at least built on Christian truths—more or less distorted.
In his book, Embodied Hope, Kelly Kapic describes the all-to-common experience of well-intentioned ministers and friends explaining away death and debilitating disease “by an uninformed appeal to God’s purposes.” He asks, “Do any of us really know why a particular event happens?” The sincere goal of such explanations is to nullify the pain or try to appease their anger toward God. Unfortunately, they rarely comfort and frequently only make things worse.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul does not turn to such trite assurances. Instead he informs those believers who are enduring the grief of lost love ones in Thessalonica. Join us this Sunday as we explore how Paul brings comfort to these grieving believers by filling out their understanding of the Christian hope—a hope which transforms both how we face life and death.