by Carolyn Ehrlich
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Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
In our reading for today, Paul outlines an order of things to the Thessalonians. It seems the new Christians in Thessalonica were concerned about death and resurrection. The same is true today, although perhaps not in exactly the same way as in the first century AD. Today, some people get caught up in extremes. Some become attached to end-time exuberance, obsessing with end-time teaching, setting dates and labelling political figures as the anti-Christ; others appear ignorant, uninterested in the world to come, lacking passion for the lost, and living in fear of future events. And yet, here, Paul asks us to draw comfort from what he has written about what is to come.
So, what are the words that we should comfort one another with? First, Paul tells us that those that are ‘asleep’ in Jesus will rise again. How do we know this? Because Jesus died and rose again. It is in his resurrection that we have hope and can be comforted that our loved ones who are ‘asleep’ will rise again. The death of a loved one is unbelievably sad, but it is not hopeless. Second, Paul tells us that those who are still alive when Jesus returns will be miraculously transformed. Third, he tells us that at the Second Coming, there will be an order: Christ himself will descend; then there will be a shout, the voice of the archangel, and a trumpet; then those who have died in Jesus will be raised; then the living believers will join the resurrected saints and meet the Lord in the air.
So, as always, God is consistent. He keeps his promises and maintains his order. At any time we are concerned, anxious or worried, we can rely on our faithful God.
Father God, thank you for being consistent, faithful and never changing. Thank you that we can draw comfort from your words. Today, I lean into your faithfulness and draw comfort from the assurance that your plan is perfect and that I am yours. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Carolyn Ehrlich lives in retirement with her husband Wayne in Ipswich, Queensland. Before retirement, Carolyn was an academic, working as a researcher in the fields of disability and rehabilitation. Carolyn had also previously worked clinically as a registered nurse. Today, Carolyn keeps busy with hobbies such as patchwork and quilting, supporting the Ipswich Lutheran Parish in various leadership roles, and supporting her family.