Death is usually the most unwelcome visitor to our homes, and rarely are we prepared for its grim, ungracious arrival. It caused the Master to weep (John 11:35); Abraham to yearn, “that I may bury my dead out of my sight” (Genesis 23:4); and Bildad to describe it as “the king of terrors” (Job 18:14). Solomon spoke of it as a man going to his eternal home; as the silver cord of life having been loosed; as the golden bowl of our days here having been shattered (Ecclesiastes 12:5-7). Death for the Christian is not defeat but victory. That is why we sorrow not as those who have no hope. When Christians die this world loses something of great value, and so becomes poorer as the result.

The story is told of the home going of that godly servant Dwight L. Moody. In his final moments before entering eternity he exclaimed, “Heaven opens before me! If this is death it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling and I must go”. When a relative suggested that he was dreaming, Moody answered, “I have looked within the gates … this is my triumph … this is my coronation day”.

We who belong to Christ can envisage the great happenings which follow the rapture. There may be empty spaces in the family circle, in the neighbourhood, on the job. There will be empty houses, church buildings and graves. The salt of the earth will be gone. As for the redeemed they will be at home with the Lord. Our hearts should rejoice in the triumphant welcome given to our Lord and Saviour when He returned to heaven after his glorious resurrection. He is the Firstfruits; He is the pioneer of the pathway to the glory-land, and we are going to traverse that same path which leads through the gates of the eternal dwelling-place. “In Your presence is fulness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). The valley of weeping will then be over, replaced by eternal joy. The valley of the shadow will be passed and replaced by eternal light. This is what causes the Christian to cry, “Come,Lord Jesus”.