But 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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
A man had sold his restaurant on Main Street and taken a position with a national insurance company.
The new job had a number of advantages. First and foremost he no longer had to put in 18 hours a day. He was able to set his own hours and work out of a small office a block or two away from his home. This was important because ministering to his frail, fragile and failing wife was of prime importance to him. When people commended him on his selfless sacrifice, he tried to explain: "She's my partner. On our wedding day, before God, we spoke vows which said 'In sickness and in health, until death us do part.'"
To all who knew them, it was not a shock when death showed at their little house.
What was surprising is that death came for him, not her. The whispered words of those who knew the couple were, "His dying is going to lead to her end as well. She won't last long."
What too many of the local folk forgot was that this insurance man and his wife were Christians. They believed that Jesus, God's Son, had come into this world to carry their sins, die the death they deserved, and had risen so all who believe in Him will live forever. In the face of death, the wife's faith did not fail her.
Two days after the funeral, she took some of her first steps ... alone.
It took what seemed like hours for her to walk from her home to her husband's empty office. Surrounded by the memories of him, the clutter of him, the scent of him, she blinked back the tears, and with trembling hands found what she was looking for. Small, slow steps took her to the front door. There she hung up the sign her husband had used when he went out on his sales calls.
The sign read, "GONE OUT. BACK SOON."
Weak in body, strong in spirit, she knew when the casket closes, it is not the end. She knew when you leave the cemetery's open grave, life is not finished. She knew the words of Jesus who said that those who acknowledge Him as Savior will be blessed in their mourning.
And for this widow, hers was a good mourning.
Of course, today you may not be a mourner. It is possible that death, up to this point, has pretty well avoided you. You may be among those few who have not yet been touched by the passing of an important or close person in your life. I am glad for you. But your immunity will not last forever.
Death will come for those close to you and you will mourn. You will mourn like the young widower who is trying to raise his two children by himself. You may mourn like the mother whose daily footsteps have worn a path to the new grave in the children's section of the local cemetery. You may mourn like the old man who sadly sighs because he has, once again, started to speak to a life's companion who is no longer there. You may mourn like a young child who cannot grasp why grandma no longer comes over for Sunday supper. You may mourn like a grown-up child who picks up the phone on Sunday afternoon to call mom, but the number is no longer in service.
Yes, death will come, and mourning will come. But because of faith in Jesus, yours can be a good mourning.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I and all whom I know be ready for that unknown hour. Grant that when that time comes all those around me may have a good mourning because we are all saved by the blood of Your Son, our Savior. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries