Grief in Hope

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13, ESV).

The Greek word for hope can also be translated as “expectation.” 

All of us will grieve. Paul writes to the brothers and sisters in Thessalonica that when considering those who have fallen asleep, they should not grieve like those who have no hope. Or grieve as those who have no expectation.

Hope is completely and totally a word in the Bible that indicates that we have a future.  

In this life, we will grieve many things – a lost job, the end of a career, a relationship ending, and the passing of someone that we know. Paul writes that with every grief experience, we can have expectation for a better future.

The Bible teaches that our expectation for insult will be future justice; for a lost job, a renewed calling; for money lost, provision; and we will see our loved ones again. 

Paul writes in Romans 5:5:

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (NLT).

One of my favorite authors is Bill Johnson.  

I have read most of his books for one reason – his great teaching on hope. I believe he has the best pragmatic theology of expectation for healing the sick today, for disappointment, and how hope allows us to experience the presence of God in difficulty.

Recently, Bill Johnson’s wife passed into eternity (I love the Apostle Paul’s description “those who are asleep”).  Three days after his wife passed, he preached a sermon at his home church. Another pastor of that church kept notes.

Let me share some of these notes with you from Bill’s eulogy for his wife.

  • We don’t judge God for what He didn’t do.
  • Answers won’t fix the problem, only His presence will.
  • Mourning can lead you to comfort or lead you to unbelief.
  • I don’t ever want to be the one who critiques God; He critiques me.
  • He gives us peace beyond understanding, therefore I give up the right to understand so that I can get His peace.
  • God brings beauty out of ashes.

I once heard another leader from Bill Johnson’s church say that Bill was always coming up with “heavy revies” by which he meant “heavy revelations” of God’s goodness.

The entire Bible is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to give us revelation into what we cannot see and understand now. Our hope… our expectation… is that we will someday know and soon be comforted.

Another “heavy revy” by the Apostle Paul:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT).

May hope and expectation give us peace today! God, draw close with Your presence.