Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).
Most every night, after tucking her children into bed, she would leave them with the words, “Go to sleep now.” Maybe it was just a habit. She knew often they would talk and giggle after she left. More than once she had to return to say, “Go to sleep” and emphasized the word, “now!” She wasn’t angry when she said it. She just knew that they would need that encouragement. They needed to sleep. It was good for them to sleep. But this night was different. Her child was restless. A fever was raging. Little could be done to help. The doctor had warned that nothing more could be done to save that small life.
Enough nights had been spent in hospital rooms with noise in the halls and equipment beeping. The doctors finally agreed that the best place for the little one to die was at home in his own bed.
So, now he lay there. His stuffed bunny rabbit was under the sheet with him. It was hard to look at him without crying, but they couldn’t do that. That would frighten him.
Mother and father decided they would not lie to him. They would not tell him that soon he would be better. Instead, they spoke the truth in love. They told him he would be away from them for a little while—only a little while. He was going to heaven. They would meet him there.
They told him why.
They reminded him of Jesus. They told again about the first Christmas. They described his miracles and his love. They explained to him that one time Jesus had left his mother and friends for a little while, also.
“Jesus died,” they explained, “and those who loved him were sad.” “But on Easter morning Jesus woke up and later went to heaven. And so will all those who have Jesus as a friend.”
“Heaven is a beautiful place,” they said, “a happy place.” “Grandpa is already there. He will be so happy to see you. You will be so happy to see him.”
No one is sick in heaven. There are no hospitals. No one needs painful treatments.
Heaven is a happy place for all of God’s children, and they will live happily ever after.”
They could tell the pain was growing worse. The medicine was no longer as effective. So they began to sing him a song. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” He began to join them with the words, “Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong…”
He made it as far as, “Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!” before his voice faltered, and his breathing grew faint.
It was a painful time for the parents. Grief flowed out from them along with their tears.
But it was not terrible. They knew this was not the end, just an interlude. For a little while they would not see their son. And, again in a little while, they would see him—whole, healthy, and happy.
Easter is proof of that.
So, one last time the mother could tell her child, “Go to sleep now” and then added the words, “See you in heaven.”
Because of Easter, she could say that. Because of Easter, we can say that.
And we do.
“See you in heaven!”
We pray: Lord Jesus, you will wipe away the tears from the eyes of all who gather around you. We marvel at the meaning of Easter. Because you rose, we too shall rise from our graves. Allow your people who still dwell this side of glory to face death without fear. We pick up the words of the trusting mother. We say, “See you in heaven, Jesus! See you in heaven.” Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain, and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, MN
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military