See you later. This is the way that we end many of our conversations with other people. It implies that even though we are separating at present, there will be a time to greet one another again. While we are departing from each other’s presence, we firmly believe that we will be together again at some point. Most of us don’t think that this will be the last time we will be together. We just assume that we will see each other later.
But then death steps into the picture. Someone we love and live in a relationship with dies. It may be an expected death after an illness or it can be an unexpected passing. Regardless the person is no longer with us. The life that we knew has left the only world we know. With their departure, it feels as though we have said our final goodbye. Death indeed, feels so final. We long to see and be with the person again.
As people of faith, the phrase “see you later” is indeed a statement of faith. As Christians, we believe that we, too, shall live again because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus told a grieving sister in the Gospel of John, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” (John 11:25) In Jesus Christ, there are no final goodbyes. We are promised resurrection and life. In Jesus, a heavenly home awaits all those who die in faith. A home where we gather eternally with God and all the saints that have gone before us. Although death happens to all of us, we truly believe that we will see each other later.
Now, this truth does not take away the pain and grief that death brings to our lives when someone we love departs this world. Grief and sorrow are heavy burdens to bear whether you are a person of faith or not. Grief creates an emptiness within us that longs to be filled by the presence of the one who has died. Yet, our faith does give us hope and strength to face our loss with the hopeful assurance that we will be with them again later. The apostle Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14) Even in death, we will be together again with those whom we say goodbye to in this world at death. We shall dwell together for all eternity with our Lord and those whom he loves. “See you later” is a statement of hope. and promise for all who live in Christ Jesus. Not even death will be a final goodbye.