Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.
4 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. 5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. 6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. 7 Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. 8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 [NLT]
The worst experience I’ve ever had around death was at the death of a person whose family refused to have any kind of service. Not a Christian service. Not a generic religious service. Not even a secular service. We were left with an empty hole and only our personal sharing of God’s word and the comfort of his love among ourselves. That brought little comfort.
Another very distressingly disappointing experience was at a Christian church where the pastor never once mentioned Jesus, nor even alluded to the hope we have in his death or resurrection.
Contrast that with the comfort that was shared many years ago at the very tragic and untimely death of my sister Kathryn. She was 28 days short of gaining her 7th birthday. The pastor at that service spoke to us about letting Kathy go to her grandparents’ house. She would be loved, cared for, safe, and protected. Better yet was the message at the death of my father-in-law. We heard a clear promise of God based on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Our salvation is founded, secured, and promised based on Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and final return in glory. His Second Coming will bring to completion all that has been promised and to which we look in faithful anticipation.
Some people seek to comfort themselves with the idea that “God needed another angel,” so he took their loved one. Others think they can talk with their departed loved one and that he or she is looking down from above upon them. There is no biblical basis for these sentiments.
Rather than thinking of Jesus’ Second Coming as an add-on to our faith, what about making it part of our hope? In other words, the fullness of our redemption will come on the Great Last Day when Jesus returns in glory and we will be with him forever. This is not an add-on to our faith. It is our true Christian hope and source of purest and perfect comfort.