Awake, O Sleeper, and Arise


But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)


St Isaac of Nineveh, comments on the notion that death is like sleep – Christ will awaken us from that sleep, and we will not have any sense after we die that we are waiting for Him. We will die and the next thing of which we will be aware is Christ calling us to awake and arise. It is a beautifully comforting image and based in St Paul’s own thinking.

How astonishing is any meditation on how we are constituted! Even more astonishing than that is the mystery of your resurrection! Again, how greatly grievous, when it is examined, is the dissolution of your composition, but great and wondrous is the glory of your resurrection. “My soul is grieved unto death.” In faith, however, I take courage, because he who first died and rose has, by his resurrection, given the comfort of hope to the human race.  Do not be sad at your entry into the silence of the grave, O mortal most fair, who are subject to corruption in the ignominy of death: look how God has placed a limit for your silent and humiliated existence, and for your deprived state, not remembered by anyone.


How beautiful is the way you are made, but how grievous is your dissolution! Let not sorrow batter you because of this, for you are going to put on this ‹same body, now› burning with fire and with spirit, bearing the precise image of its Maker. Do not let doubts disturb you concerning the greatness of this hope, for Paul comforts you concerning it: “He will transform the body of our lowly state and make it the likeness of the body of his glory.” Do not be grieved that for many years we will be subject to this corruption of death, beneath the soil, until the end of this world overtakes us. This matter of death and the entire length of our sleep in the grave does not weigh down on us, since it will seem to us like the sleep of one night.


Look how the wise Creator has even made death easy for us, so that we should not be aware at all of its weariness. Only until we meet it is it difficult for us: we will have no further awareness of our state of corruption, or of the dissolution of our ‹bodily› frame, but ‹it will be› like the sleep of a single night: when ‹the dead› arise on that day ‹it will be› as if we had gone to sleep in the evening and woken up ‹in the morning›, so easy for us will be the long sleep of the grave and the length of years in it. (Headings on Spiritual Knowledge: The Second Part, Chapters 1-3, Kindle  Location 3045-3063)


Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)