“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 (NIV)
Today I am thankful for the promises of God — specifically the promised return of Jesus to gather those who are His to Himself. I am thankful that God has given us His promises for the purpose of encouraging one another. I am thankful that after a month of writing a daily “Giving Thanks” post, I still have so much more to be thankful for than just the things I’ve written about. I am thankful that we are not only “caught up” to be with Jesus forever, but we “will be caught up together with them” — the “them” being those who are in Christ but have already passed from this life.
Clouds have a way of obscuring things as they keep us from clearly seeing what is beyond them. At times, clouds can completely hide known objects from view yet we live with confidence that what disappeared behind the clouds is still just as present as it was when we could see it. While there have been lengthy periods of time when the clouds take over and it feels like the sun will never be seen again, but the truth is that it is always there even when unseen and it always breaks through the clouds no matter how many days may pass before it does so. It is in the cloudy days of life that I am most thankful for the unchanging nature of God as it reassures me that His promises will all be kept.
As I spent the day with my family chasing a steam locomotive to photograph, we kept looking for the clouds of steam and smoke that rose in the air as a tell-tale sign of where it was. There were even times when the clouds of steam would completely hide the train from view, yet the cloud itself was proof that the train was there. “Being caught up in the clouds” is an encouragement only if we believe there is something beyond them. Even when the clouds of this human flesh obscure our vision and understanding of what heaven is really like, we can trust the promises of God that it is not only real but it is a place of complete peace in the presence of God.
I pray that you and I would continue to be thankful every day that God gives us life. I pray that we would hold fast to the promises of God in such a way that we are encouraged by His faithfulness. I pray that we would encourage one another as we trust God with everything that is beyond our vision.