Life here is short
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (NIV) According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord, himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.
The Thessalonian church was worried about those who had died. They thought that the return of Christ would come before their death. Paul told them that what he is about to share came from Jesus' own lips. Peter, or one of the other apostles, must have shared this with Paul. We don't find it in the Gospels. If Paul had not relayed it to this church, we wouldn't know the encouraging truth found here.
He wrote that Jesus had explained that some would die before His return. The believers that are living would not be taken up before those who had died. Here is the order: the Lord comes down from heaven; He gives a loud command; an archangel gives a shout; the trumpet of God sounds; the dead in Christ rise; we are caught up with the risen believers; then we all meet the Lord in the air never again to be separated from His glorious presence.
Paul wrote that they should comfort one another with these words. We are going to meet Christ together with those we love who died. If we should die before Jesus' return, we will be with those who rise. We have a glorious hope. No other faith has such strong assurance and promise. It should be a great comfort to us.
Christians debate about whether our spirit is present with the Lord when we die, or whether we enter into a waiting mode like sleep. It is easy to argue for one or the other, but either way, it will seem like instantly being in the Lord's presence. Death is not the end for us. It is merely the door to a glorious eternity.
Remember: Life here is short. Live in the light of eternity.