13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangelâ€™s call and with the sound of Godâ€™s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This is a beautiful, hopeful passage full of wonder and the imagination of God. But the word I am reflecting on is encourage.
Paul is inviting his congregation in Thessalonica to remind one another of the truth that Jesus is coming again as a way to encourage one another.
Not to scare one another. Not as “you better watch out, you better not pout…” Not to issue a cautionary tale for the ones who have yet to get their lives together. Not as a weapon or a warning.
“Encourage one another with these words.” Share these words and find hope in them! Rejoice in them! Remember these words on the dark days when it seems like this is all for nothing or grief is overwhelming.
What are the ways you can share God’s word and hope in what God is doing with someone who needs encouragement?