When writing my mom’s obituary, I felt that the word died seemed too final for the hope I had in our promised reunion in heaven as fellow believers in Jesus. So, I wrote: “She was welcomed into the arms of Jesus.” Still, some days I grieve when looking at the more current family photos that don’t include my mom. Recently, though, I discovered a painter who creates family portraits with those we’ve lost. The artist uses the photos of loved ones who have gone before us to paint them into the picture of the family. With strokes of a paintbrush, this artist represents God’s promise of a heavenly reunion. I shed grateful tears at the thought of seeing my mom smiling by my side again.
The apostle Paul affirms that believers in Jesus don’t have to grieve “like the rest of mankind” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (v. 14). Paul acknowledges Jesus’ second coming and proclaims that all believers will be reunited with Jesus. “And so we will be with the Lord forever” (v. 17).
God’s promise of a heavenly reunion can comfort us when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one who has trusted Jesus. Our promised future with our Risen King also provides enduring hope when we face our own immortality, until the day Jesus comes or calls us home.