Have you ever noticed that when people panic, they stop thinking clearly?
I remember making a short film with some high school friends. We were shooting in a dry field at the edge of a forest. As the director set up his camera, I got bored and started a teeny tiny fire with a handful of dried grass. I remember turning away for a moment to look at my friends’ progress. When I turned back, I was surrounded by flames.
And they were spreading.
I remember looking around thinking, “Where’s the water bucket? Where’s the water bucket?”
Of course, there was no water bucket. I was in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere. But I wasn’t thinking clearly, was I?
Luckily, my friends saw the flames, ran over, and stamped out the circle of fire with their jackets. I realized I had a jacket, too, and joined them. Thank God we put it out, but not before the fire had burned out a large circle of charred grass.
Sometimes life can leave you in a daze, and you need your Christian community to be by your side to remind you of truths easily forgotten.
For example, the believers in Thessaloniki were confused about the deaths of their loved ones. They had died before Jesus’ return. That was unexpected. They thought Jesus would come soon—but He didn’t. What would happen to their dearly departed?
The Thessalonians were nearly overwhelmed with sorrow. So Paul wrote to reassure them with the truths of the Rapture and the Resurrection:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (1 Thess 4:13-14).
Paul told them they could grieve—but not as those without hope. Christian grief takes a divine perspective. Paul reminded them that Jesus rose from the dead, and that means something for us:
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess 4:15-17).
When the Lord comes for the Church, the dead in Christ will be raised first. And then the living and the resurrected will together meet the Lord in the air. Knowing that should give you hope in the face of death. You’ll see your Christian friends again at the Rapture:
Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thess 4:18).
Comfort one another with those words, just as Paul did.
This “one another” command depends on knowing and confessing Christian truths. The Rapture and Resurrection are especially comforting doctrines because they give you a divine perspective on the death of fellow believers.
One day, we’ll be raised together. In the meantime, we need a doctrinally informed community to be comforted together.