Seasons change. Our glorious fall on the Kenai Peninsula was highlighted with amazing colors and warm weather. Now the daylight hours are getting shorter and there is a pronounced cold in the air. Darkness and the presence of termination dust on the mountains will confirm, “Winter is coming.” The change of seasons in fall reminds creation that there is a natural process of dying or shedding of life. Death is a mysterious, inevitable reality of life, which humanity cannot escape.
It is final. It is the last act. For loved ones, death is the end of relationship and grief and loss consume many.
Throughout time people have wrestled with the finality of death and what happens next. In the Bible, a follower of Jesus, Paul, wrote these words to a young church who were inquiring about what happens when someone dies.
He wrote, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
Paul uses the word “sleep in death” to describe what happens when someone dies. He explains that “those who have fallen asleep in him (Jesus)” will at some point be united with Jesus who is the resurrected Savior. Jesus conquered death and offers life to all who will follow him.
In this relationship, people connected to Jesus will be forever with God in heaven. As Paul encourages those who are left behind after someone dies, notice the difference in how people grieve someone’s passing: he says, “you do not need to grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.”
Even when seasons change or we face death we can have hope, because of the work of Jesus. Death does change our human reality, but in Jesus there is hope and life eternal.
Pastor Frank Alioto serves as a Chaplain with Central Peninsula Hospital and with Central Emergency Services.