Sorrow Plus Hope Equals Joy
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church he covers an important topic to those who lived in the early days of the church. The church understood that Jesus was going to return to establish His kingdom here on earth but what was going to happen to those followers of Jesus who had died before Jesus returned? Had they missed their chance to be in the kingdom? Paul writes this in chapter 4 of his first letter to the Thessalonians: 13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. The expression “fallen asleep” meant those who had physically died.
Paul was teaching that death for the follower of Jesus was not final or even fatal. Followers of Jesus who had died would have their bodies resurrected when Jesus returned and those bodies would be reunited with their spirits in heaven. The believers did not have to sorrow as those without hope. I’d like us to think about that phrase for a minute. In all aspects of life, the follower of Jesus will experience sorrow. But in every case we do not sorrow without hope. We KNOW that God is still active in our lives and that through His love He will use our sorrow for our good and His glory. When we add hope to sorrow, we can experience joy. If you are sorrowful today, add hope. God can supernaturally make that sorrow turn into joy.