While speaking at a Family Retreat last week, I was reminded of the times I drove my son to the airport to make his journey back out to Wisconsin at the end of spring break or to begin another year in college. We had enjoyed wonderful opportunities for fellowship, but when it was time for him to return, I got that familiar lump in my chest that had accompanied every goodbye since my little boy had become a man. I thought it might get easier with time, but I was wrong, I hate to say goodbye.
Maybe you can relate, but if not, you can rest assured, your day is coming. Perhaps your first experience will be like the one that I have described here, or it could be that sad goodbye to a loved one who is smitten with a fatal illness. Or maybe you’ll bid farewell to a brother or sister, son or daughter whose career choice, or stint in the military, will move them to a different hemisphere. Oh yes, your day is coming.
This is certainly a sad observation, but it’s not without purpose. The scriptures teach that for those who place their trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ, the last goodbye is followed by an eternal reunion. This wonderful promise can be seen in many Bible passages, but none more clearly than 1Thessalonians 4:13 where the child of God who is grieving over the death of a loved one is encouraged, “…sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” The promise is contained in the word hope. This word is not the common “hope so” that we are accustomed to; the Bible word hope suggests confident expectation of a thing promised. In the case of the death of a believer, the Bible assures us that our loved one is secure in heaven and that death only separates us for a season. There is coming a day when the word goodbye will be forever forgotten to those who live in God’s eternal presence.
God’s family is not terrorized by the thought of the last goodbye. Won’t you join us? Until then, I’ll just say, See you later!