Archives for posts with tag: loss

A comment right out of Charlie Brown.

Just two months after the death of my son, I am feeling and recognizing “good grief.”  Please understand, missing him is a deep ache.  But it is so good to have the sure confidence that we will be together again.  My pastors, family, and friends continue giving their compassion, touch, and prayers which bring relief.

Whatever the sorrow or loss, it is the start of coping, resolving, finding answers, accepting powerlessness, trusting God, finding hope, that gets you through the night and into the day.

Isn’t all suffering the growth cell that develops form, shape, growth, and resolution?  Indulging in memories at unexpected moments?  It hurts and feels good simultaneously.  It is good grief.

Today is Good Friday.  It brings us more “Good Grief.”  How crushing the torture, suffering, and death of our savior.  How transforming Christ’s resurrection and living presence!  Romans 8:18 says that our present suffering is not to be compared to our future eternity with Christ.

His suffering rewarded Him.  Our suffering rewards us.  And in the suffering is our best selves.  It is “Good grief.” And He comes and suffers again, with us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-5, English Standard Version)

by Margaret Stone

Friends and family make a big impact on our lives.   Simple statement, you think.

Yep, but the “big impact” isn’t so simple.   As life goes on, we learn just how much our friends and family mean to us.  Since our society is so mobile, often it is our friends who take the bigger role, because family has been left in another city or state.  How is it with you?

Oswald Chambers is one of my favorite authors of spiritual matters, and one of his devotions spoke deeply to me.  He says in his book, My Utmost for His Highest (Barbour Publishing), that the following verse had great impact on him.  “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord” (Isa. 6:1).

Now Uzziah’s passing occurred after a long and prosperous reign, and his loss was profoundly disconcerting for the people of Judah.  And the loss was personally profound to Isaiah.

What happened when the ground of certainty was pulled our from beneath the great Old Testament prophet’s feet?  He did not become discouraged, depressed, or throw a tantrum  or go on a shopping spree—he saw the Lord.

When we are in the midst of a storm, it is difficult to see through the swirling clouds and heavy rain.  No doubt we would rather run away from the storm than stand up against the wind and pelting drops of cold water.  God, however, is often best revealed in such times.

In the year my best and closest friend died, we had the opportunity to share with each other our mutual faith and trust in what God promised through Jesus Christ.  We knew that soon we would be together for all eternity and therefore our friendship could truly never be broken.  It was a bittersweet time for us—losing so much but gaining something so much greater.  The sense of God’s presence in my life had never been greater.

Continuing with Chambers’ thinking, he went on to say that the vision we have of God is dependent upon the state of our character.  I must have a right relationship with God in order to see the Lord in the midst of terrible circumstances.

How does that happen?  How do I see God even when caught in the horrible and deep canyon of death?   My personal answer is to see God through love—the love He gave to me through what Christ did on Calvary’s hill.  With such love dominating my thinking, I can’t help knowing God is truly working all things together for my good (Rom. 8:28).

Resting the whole of my faith on the bedrock of God’s perfect love, I can then rest all other aspects of my life on that same foundation.  When God is given first place in everything I think or do, it will become clear that all things hinge upon His will.  Knowing Him as the One ultimately in control of all circumstances, I can relax and find spiritual rest.

In all things, I can see the Lord!

by Cindy Best

As a late-coming autumn swiftly transitions over to winter in central Iowa and the days become shorter, darker, and colder, I find myself sinking into a seasonal melancholy that always turns my attention to what I consider the deeper things in life.  Perhaps it is the loss of daylight and warmth that directs my thoughts to loss in general.  We have all experienced and survived the loss of a loved one, our own health, a friendship or other relationship, a job, a home, perhaps a dream we once had for ourselves.  As much as we would like to avoid it, we simply cannot.

It is natural for us, then, as individuals and even as a nation or world to divide our life’s timeline into Before and After.  Before and After 9/11.  The War.  The Economic Meltdown.  The Death of a Grandchild.  The Suicide of a Son.  The Miscarriage.  The Divorce.  The Betrayal.

Sometimes we get stuck in our memories of that Before life and are unable to embrace the After and move past our pain and grief and longing.  We don’t know how to accept the loss with grace.  Maybe we fear that if we do accept it, we will forget that person or devalue that friendship or feel bitter or guilty or ashamed.  The only way we can see to protect ourselves is to clutch the Before closely, because letting it go would mean emptying ourselves out and starting over with a new, blank-page After, and the thought of an empty self terrifies us.  We tell ourselves that suffering is part of life.  Better the pain we know than the pain we can only imagine.

For people of faith, getting stuck in the Before world can be a means of avoiding what Saint John of the Cross called a “dark night of the soul,” that necessary agony we must endure if we want to experience union with God.  Make no mistake, God does not cause our suffering; it is a byproduct of being human.  We all must endure hardship and tragedy, both physical and spiritual, as we struggle to overcome our attachments and grow in our relationship with God.  Our souls long to be reunited with the One who made us and loves us, but we also long to hold on to those we love, despite the impermanence of earthly bodies and other material things.  Letting them go is an act of faith and an expression of hope, a necessary loss.

Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher famous for questioning nearly everything, said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Although this isn’t exactly Biblical, I think it’s usually true.  Without struggle, we cannot grow.  Several years ago my family had some trees planted in our yard.  The person who did the planting staked the young trees to protect them from the fierce Iowa winds as their roots took hold.  I wondered how long the stakes should stay in place, so I did some research.  Turns out you should remove them after no longer than one year, because the trees need resistance from the wind in order to send their roots deep into the ground.  Leaving them staked too long allows the roots, which are lazy without the challenge of wind, to grow in a shallow pattern, and once the stakes are removed the first big gust could just topple the tree.

We are like trees in that respect.  Although we don’t seek out tragedy, if we lean into it and fully embrace it we can allow God to use it to strengthen the roots of our faith by growing them deep into Him.  It is painful.  It is difficult.  It is often lonely.  But until we can honestly say, “Your grace is sufficient,” we will never know what wholeness, what union with God, is like.  We have to release the world Before and pursue with tears, with anger, with agony, and with joy the life After.  It’s the only life truly worth living.

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