13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For 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. 17Then 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. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.This summer we had a young man die, he was not part of our congregation, he was not, as far as we know a believer, his mom knows there is a god, but she doesn't attend church except occasionally, so it's not like there's a lot of depth to her belief. Her grief is very deep. She hopes that her son is "in a good place". But she doesn't know, and this adds to her pain of loss. When I read these verses I think of her. And then I think of cousins of mine who lost their son, just a lad, and the grief they feel and they are a bible-believing family, they have this loss but mixed with it they have some hope that their son is in heaven.
There is that joy when a believer dies, mixed with sorrow yes, that death has occurred, but joy that this one soul is resting now with Christ.
Paul wants his church, these Thessalonican believers to fully be informed about what happens to believers when they die. As Clarke tells us:
1. He asserts, as he had done before, that they who died in the Lord should have, in virtue of Christ’s resurrection, a resurrection unto eternal life and blessedness.Believers will be with the Lord when they die. Believers who have died will be raised first, and then those who are left. Believers will always be with the Lord. We will. God's word promises it. Therefore we need to encourage each other.
2. He makes a new discovery, that the last generation should not die at all, but be in a moment changed to immortals.
3. He adds another new discovery, that, though the living should not die, but be transformed, yet the dead should first be raised, and be made glorious and immortal; and so, in some measure, have the preference and advantage of such as shall then be found alive.
Death, for a believer is not something to be feared. There is hope. So our sadness at the time of death need not be over-whelming, as if there is nothing to joy in, to hope in, but a time of knowing that this believer is now with the Lord.