Halloween is fast approaching. Already I see signs of it as I walk around our neighborhood such as spiders and ghouls and plastic headstones etched with RIP.
Speaking of RIP – Rest in Peace – when I see those letters, I can’t help but think of the so many people I know who grieve for their deceased loved ones and hope they are resting in peace.
Now, what I am about to say I say with the utmost kindness – although truth can often be perceived as mean-spirited, harsh, and cruel. That is not my intent. But God tells us through St Paul:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep [died], so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep [died] in Jesus. 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
With Christ. In Christ.
That is the only reason we can comfort one another with real hope, with true hope, with justifiable hope.
It is true, no one can know what a person’s last thought was before their heart stopped and their brain ceased functioning. No one can know if they pleaded with God for forgiveness of their sins and thereby received eternal rest.
But it is tragically useless to hope our loved one is resting in peace if – even to their last moment – he or she did not belong to Christ by faith and confession of their sins. Such a hope is, sadly, a terribly false hope – for there is no hope for peace after death for the one who rejected Jesus’ offer of forgiveness while they were still alive.
Once again, I do not want to seem mean-spirited. I’m just telling you what God tells us in His word.
And so, what about you? Please, think long about this: Do you want those you leave behind to have a justifiable hope that you are resting in peace?
Then, you know what you must do.