By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
We lived in Miles City, MT, for 25 years. In the early years there, Hugh, a man from our church, was in poor health. His wife told us he had been diagnosed with, as she put it, “old timer’s disease,” by which she meant Alzheimer’s, that well-known and horrible disease. Hugh’s health problems landed him in the VA hospital in Miles City. So, I would go and visit him a couple times a week. His mind had deteriorated to the poin…t that he imagined things, such as a cat in his hospital room. Not only did he imagine things. He was becoming increasingly forgetful. Knowing his forgetfulness, it seemed best to read the same passage of Scripture to him on a few successive visits. I figured that it might help the verses to stick with him. Well, here’s what happened: one day I re-read the same verses to him, and Hugh said, “Isn’t that about the third time you’ve read those verses?” I had to agree with him! He might have seen a cat that wasn’t there, and he might have forgotten many things, but he had remembered what I had been reading to him. That was a good thing, but it irritated him. So, what Bible verses had I been reading to him? And why? They were verses 13 – 18, from the 4th chapter of apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian Christians. Why did I choose to read and re-read those verses to Hugh? It was because Hugh’s death seemed close at hand, and the verses are very comforting to Christians who are facing death. The reference in these verses to being “asleep” is a reference to being asleep in death. At death, the Christian’s soul goes to be with Christ, and the body “sleeps” as it awaits the resurrection. Notice in verse 18 the value of these words of Scripture. Here they are from the Modern English Version, which was published in 2014:
13 But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and arose again, so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 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 are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 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 so we shall be forever with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Modern English Version (MEV)
The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.
These verses were taken from this website: www.biblegateway.com