Here is a passage full of encouragement when Jesus’ manifesto for kingdom growth from 4:1-20…
After seeing, from various passages in the second of our sermons on the end times, what Christians’ resurrection bodies will be like when Jesus returns – physical bodies, superior to our earthly bodies – we took great encouragement from 1 Thessalonians 4:9-5:13.
Our Christian friends and family who have died are not lost; this is not the end; their souls are with Jesus, waiting for the day when he’ll give them and us new bodies for eternal life in his new creation.
And so, while we do grieve and while it is right to grieve, we do not grieve for them in the same way as unbelievers grieve. We grieve with hope – hope for the day when they will rise again and we will rise with them to meet our Lord Jesus and live with him for ever.
Paul’s application, twice in this passage, is to “encourage one another”. We encourage one another with the future hope of all Christians, and we help each other ‘stay awake’ in preparation for that day when, through Jesus who died for us, we obtain the salvation God has destined us for.