|“And so we will be with the Lord forever.”|
|—1 Thessalonians 4:17b|
Three children in my formative years were confined to wheel chairs. Most of you reading this would not fully comprehend how devastating poliomyelitis (polio) was before Dr. Jonas Salk created his life-saving vaccine.
It was the summer of 1952. I was five years old. My beautiful little cousin, Marsha Moran, was two years old when polio struck. The disease moved fast, paralyzed the muscles of her diaphragm preventing her ability to breathe. There simply weren’t enough iron lungs available for all the children affected by the national crisis of the polio epidemic. Marsha died a horrible, life-choking death.
By God’s grace, the medical research of Dr. Salk, and later Dr. Albert Sabin, soon effectively halted the polio epidemic in the United States.
It is always terribly sad when a child dies. But the photo accompanying this blog post shows how one family reached out in their grief to declare a truth worth celebrating to all who might pass by the grave of their dearly loved and sadly missed child.
Please note these words from the Apostle Paul, as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
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.
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
In the midst of our grief whenever a child, or anyone else, dies, we who believe in Christ have a true and lasting hope. That hope is fully realized in death.
In death, we are set free from the terrible effects of sin and from the restrictions and disease of our frail bodies. That freedom is glorious in all its manifestation.
Let us comfort each other, as we mourn the loss of those who have died. One day we will all exclaim: “Free at last!”