Life Is Filled With Losses
Since the Fall, our families have been plagued with all kinds of losses: our romantic relationships end, our family members expire, our friends move away, we are terminated from our jobs, and our medical diagnoses shatter our sense of strength and vitality. While we may experience losses collectively, the effects are uniquely personal. We all grieve our losses. Grieving is the natural response to loss. The way grief affects us depends on many things, including what kind of loss we have suffered, our upbringing, our beliefs or religion, our age, our relationships, and our physical and mental health. Admittedly, dealing with a loss is one of the most difficult things and times in a person’s life. The physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual effects can be overwhelming and can lead to feelings of helplessness, fear, and isolation. During this season of grief, Satan will seek every opportunity to try to bring us or our families into permanent bondage.
The best comforters are those who have experienced comforting themselves.
However, while grief has to be expressed, contrary to popular opinion, no timetable or clear process exists for working one’s way through grief. Grief is as complicated as sin itself. There are many factors that also influence the way we grieve: cultural norms and religious practices sometimes dictate and impact how we grieve. Whatever the dynamics, grieving is extremely important because it allows us to be released from the bond we have had to the lost person, object, or experience and reenter a new normalcy. Naturally, we will grieve because God has created us with a kind of instinct for self-preservation. However, healthy grieving gives direction to our grief. Speaking on the subject of losing a loved one, Paul declares, “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” (1 Thess. 4:13, NIV). In an excellent manner, the apostle Paul addresses grieving and hoping simultaneously. Indeed, Christian believers can face any kind of loss with hope. Hope is immersed in the promise of our Lord Jesus that those who mourn shall be comforted (Matt. 5:4). We believe that God, in His great love for His creation, has revealed answers to some of the greatest questions we will ever face. This understanding can help us better cope with all life’s losses. We can find great comfort in the knowledge described in the following sections.
We Cannot Prevent Losses in Our Lives, But We Need Not Face Our Losses Alone
Note carefully that Paul did not advocate that we should not grieve our losses. It’s normal and healthy to grieve when we experience loss. However, isn’t it comforting to know that we don’t need to wallow alone in our sorrow? “The Lord has special grace for the mourner, and its power is to melt hearts, to win souls. His love opens a channel into the wounded and bruised soul, and becomes a healing balsam to those who sorrow.”1 Those who truly believe and understand the Bible can with confidence claim its promises (e.g., Ps. 147:3; 2 Cor. 1:3, 4). We can give our hurt to Him because He cares for us and we are never alone.
The Pain of Our Losses Is Severe, but the Purpose Is Sweet
The behavioral, physical, and psychological impact of each loss can be so intense that it feels like the weight crushes us and squeezes the very life out of us. Not only do we need hope—we need help. Paul assures us that we will be helped. He writes, “That we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:4, NKJV). In her book Blessings, Mary Craig writes: “The value of suffering does not lie in the pain of it . . . but in what the sufferer makes of it. . . . It is in sorrow that we discover the things which really matter; in sorrow that we discover ourselves.”2 And in a real sense, our sorrow ushers us into a new community, a community of comforters. The best comforters are those who have experienced comforting themselves.
Suffering and Sorrow Will One Day Come to an End
One of the most difficult things to accept during the initial stage of grief is that the physical and emotional pain will ever go away. And it does not matter how many losses we have experienced, we will be faced each time with these feelings and emotions. The reality is that we will never in this life be able to fully deal with losses because we were never created to. Pain, suffering, losses, and even death are all intruders; they were possible but not necessary. These were never a part of God’s plan. However, let not our hearts be troubled. The Bible foretells a future in which God “ ‘ “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ ” (Rev. 21:4, NIV).
1. Which loss would you categorize as the most painful to endure?
2. How has a personal loss revealed that the promises of God are sincere?
3. How have you been able to find purpose in your loss?
4. One day our sorrow will be turned to joy. Can you envision what that looks like?