1 Thessalonians 4:16
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
In the name of + Jesus.
It wasn’t good for Adam to be alone in the garden of Eden; it isn’t good for me to be alone either. For mutual companionship, help, and support, God created Eve, and gave her to Adam. Together, the two became one—a whole.
Without any merit or worthiness in me, the Lord has blessed me with Jamie, and together we are a whole—a family. And for the last 11 days, I’ve had a helpful reminder just how great this gift really is. As many of you know, Jamie took the three youngest—along with her folks, Allen and Shirley—to WI for an 11 day trip. And it was a great trip. Lots of time with family and friends. The kids were able to spend extended time with Grammy and Papa, and with their aunt, uncle, and more. Naomi and I enjoyed special time together as well, something we both enjoyed.
And even with all of this good, there was something which wasn’t quite right. Like leaving the house without my wallet, something was missing. Actually, there were four people that were missing. And while Naomi and I were still together, the other kids were gone, and Jamie was gone. Sure, we had plenty of food; I know how to do the laundry; and others were helpful in keeping an eye on Naomi when I had another obligation. But like I said, it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, and for 11 days, I learned that it isn’t good for me to be alone either.
Of course, the truth is, death is always threatening to separate what the Lord has joined together. And when it is death that separates us from one another—rather than a vacation—the separation doesn’t come to an end after 11 days. There are no evening phone calls to see how the day went. There are no text messages with cute pictures of the kids’ activities. When death causes the separation, there is an eerie quietness in the house where there had previously been conversation. When death separates us there is something missing, an emptiness, even an isolating grief that is not going to go away after 11 days.
But St. Paul reminds us in the passage above, that even the separation caused by death will be undone with a great reunion. For those who have died in the faith, the return of Christ will bring about a reunion of those from whom we’ve been separated by death. Those who were dead and buried long ago will be called up from the ground to be given their glorious new resurrected bodies. Those who are blessed to still be living, will be transformed, in the twinkling of an eye. And those who have been separated by death; those who have grieved their separation from spouses, children, parents, and other dear loved ones; those who have learned that it is not good to be alone, will experience a joyful reunion of family that will never again be separated from one another.
I’m glad that Jamie and the three kids were able to go to WI. And I have new cherished memories of spending one-on-one time with Naomi. But as Jamie made her way back to Jackson yesterday, her return, and our reunion, brought a joy that is just a glimpse—a glimpse—of the joy of that Last Day, when all who have been separated will be brought together forever in the presence of Christ.
St. Paul wanted his words to be used as an encouragement for those whose lives had been affected by death. I pray that this little devotion would serve, not only to help us treasure those with whom we have been blessed to be together; but that, even more, those who have known the terrible pain of the more permanent separation caused by death, my look forward to that reunion, for which we hope, and which Jesus will bring, when He comes again.
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!
O Lord of Life, whose death has destroyed death, and whose life gives life to all who trust in you. Comfort us, we pray, with the promise of resurrection and reunion. For those who live with the pain of separation, give them hope and certainty to look forward with confidence to that glorious reunion. And give all of us an appreciation for those through whom you provide the gift of companionship today; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.