Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Friend Of Little Children"1 (Lyrics)
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – And now, dear brothers and sisters, 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. (NLT)
I fought the lump growing in my throat.
Susie and I had been friends for almost thirty years. Although our lives had taken us in different directions — she settled in the same town that she had grown up in while I left the state for college and moved around in the state to pastor churches — periodically we reconnected with each other and caught up.
When Susie found the man she wanted to marry, she called me and asked if I would perform the ceremony. I did, and laughed when her soon-to-be husband pulled a wet washcloth from his suit coat pocket to wipe his face to keep from passing out. A number of years later, when her daughter found the man she wanted to marry, Susie called on me again, and I married her daughter.
My wife and I had not heard from Susie in a while, but my wife was startled when she came across a Facebook post from Susie's daughter. Susie had contracted COVID. Because she had some underlying health problems, the virus had attacked her body with a fury. Doctors admitted her to the hospital — and soon to ICU, where she was vented and put in an induced coma.
The next day, Susie's daughter posted again. The nurse had called. Things didn't look good. They had done all that they could. They needed a miracle. But the miracle didn't come — at least not in the way that they wanted. The next day as I checked Susie's daughter's Facebook page for an update, I saw the news that I didn't want to see: Susie had died that afternoon.
Initially, COVID was some far-off virus. In the northeast. In metropolitan areas. Then, it exploded south, east, and west, and across the world. Suddenly, people my wife and I knew had contracted it. Some had mild symptoms. Others, like Susie, died.
I thought about what Paul told the believers at the church in Thessalonica. Yes, they grieved over losing loved ones, but no, they didn't have to grieve as those who had no hope. Their hope — my hope — lay in believing that life is more than the years that we live on earth.
Susie had come from a Christian family and had made her decision to follow Jesus many years before. Like me, she had wandered a little from time to time, but her foundation was firm. I had no doubt that when she took her final breath in that ICU room, she took her first breath in heaven. I grieved, but not as one who had no hope.
Regardless of what takes our life — whether COVID, natural causes, an accident, a disease — in Christ, we have the hope of a better place where no more pain, suffering, grief, death, or bad things will ever take place again.
Can you grieve with hope?
Prayer: Father, may we grieve with the hope that a better life awaits us. Amen.