In early 2012, James McConnell passed away at a nursing home in Southsea, Hampshire, in England. Mr. McConnell, a veteran of the UK’s Royal Marines, was 70 years old. Unfortunately, he had no family, and when the medical staff told Rev. Bob Mason that they feared no one would show up for the funeral, Mason sent the following note to the Royal Marines Association:
Ladies and Gentlemen, In this day and age it is tragic enough that anyone has to leave this world with no one to mourn their passing, but this man was family and I am sure you will agree [he] deserves a better send off. If you can make it to the graveside . . . to pay your respects to a former brother in arms, then please try to be there.
Mason was shocked when 200 people showed up for McConnell’s funeral.
While it’s true that no one should be buried without mourners to acknowledge the grief, the truth is that believers in Jesus have hope beyond physical death. “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again,” said the apostle Paul, “we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). To make certain that his point was perfectly clear, Paul made a second pass: “We tell you this directly from the Lord . . . the Christians who have died will rise from their graves” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16).
Death, though it’s certainly something to grieve, is absolutely nothing to fear. We don’t have to live in terror of death or carry the burden of sorrow for those who have no hope. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! His resurrection is the assurance of our own. Faith in His cross and resurrection provides us with hope in life and hope in death.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 25:19-34
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. What instructions does Paul give the church? What’s the connection between these life instructions and the teaching that followed?
What are your feelings about death? How does the fact of Jesus’ resurrection affect your feelings?