The apostle Paul once wrote to some Christians at Thessalonica who were concerned about what happened after death. After allaying their fears with a beautiful description of the final resurrection, he instructed them, "Comfort one another with these words" (1 Thess. 4:18). It is easy for the pressures and problems of life to get us down and make us worry. But God's word is full of truths that bring great comfort to the soul of every Christian. Jesus spoke many words of consolation to his distressed disciples. His apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, brought messages of hope and courage to the struggling saints of the early church. The truths of his life, death, and resurrection, as well as his promises to us, are a source of comfort and joy like no other.
1. In Christ we have forgiveness of sins. No greater human problem exists than that of separation from God by sin. Every one of us has fallen short of God's glory (Rom. 3:9,23). But the wall placed between man and God has been broken down by Jesus' death. "And you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world …" (Eph. 2:1-2). "But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us . . .And not only that, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Rom. 5:8,11).
2. In Christ we have joy and peace in life. Many people spend their whole lives searching for something to give them happiness and peace of mind. The writer of Ecclesiastes tried in vain to find satisfaction in the things of this world. He finally realized that serving the Lord is the only thing that brings any real reward: "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl. 12:13). Christians should be the happiest people in the world! Instead of worry and anxiety, Christ offers the peace of bringing our requests before God Almighty (Phil. 4:6-7). Rather than sinfulness, hatred, and conflict, the Spirit of God yields love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in us (Gal. 5:22-23).
3. In Christ we have hope even in death. People tend to fear death because they don't know what lies beyond. But the Christian can face life's end with the knowledge that resurrection to eternal life will follow. The Thessalonians were evidently worried about their brethren who had died. Paul reassures them that because Christ overcame death, those who die in him die in hope: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:14). In 1 Corinthians 15, a most glorious picture of the resurrection is painted, one that allows the Christian to face even death with confidence in his Lord: "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory … But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:54,57).
4. In Christ we have the promise of a heavenly reward. Perhaps the greatest comfort that God's word provides is knowing the reward that awaits us when the difficulties of this life have ceased. In Revelation 21-22, John describes (as ably as possible in human terms) the glory of heaven as he beheld it. I can never read this passage without feeling a stirring in my soul. I am sure it had the same effect on the downtrodden saints to whom John wrote. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4). We can withstand all the storms of life, no matter how severe, with the certain hope that we will one day dwell with God for eternity. "And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light . . . And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 21:23; 22:5).