Lessons in Loss
There is nothing like loss and grief that can shake your world to its core. Having recently lost my mother to cancer there is simply no preparation for that type of loss. It has caused me to reinforce my belief in some core principles found in the bible. Here are a few that have been on my radar recently.
1. Hope is the greatest source of comfort for the Christian. From the beginning of my mom’s diagnosis with stage four lung cancer I tried to prepare myself for the worst. It’s my coping mechanism I suppose to always say, “What’s the worst that can happen”? I imagine the worst but then try and go all out for a complete transformation of the circumstances. Prayer and planning consume much of my time and did as my family dealt with mom’s cancer. We were given the best care at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and felt reassured about our decision to have mom there. While we did everything we thought was best for her we also knew that life and death decisions rest completely in the hands of God. Our hope is in the reality that mom is with Jesus and is experiencing all that is promised for her in scripture. She is completely healed and fulfilled in the presence of her savior. While it does not replace our sorrow, hope comes beside our sorrow to say death is not the end because of Jesus. Real faith embraces both realities of our current sufferings and ultimate future hope in Jesus Christ.
2. Relationships make a difference. Let’s face it we all have experienced some of our greatest joy and sorrow in this world in the context of relationships. Even if we are not the touchy feely type we are all affected by our relationships. The outpouring of love was overwhelming as hundreds turned out for mom’s memorial service. We were amazed. It brought comfort and closure. At the same time a core group of people in our lives continually connected to see how they could help us walk through this difficult time. These are friends that transcend the good, bad and ugly circumstances in our lives. We all need these friendships. They are people that we can be authentic around without the fear of rejection. This was invaluable to me. Jesus needed them too. At one point when the crowds began to reject him he said to his disciples, “Do you want to go away as well?” John 6:67 To me that is his very human expression of his need for real relationship It is not defined by economics, politics, church attendance or ministry but love and relationship. My family has come to appreciate this despite difficult circumstances these last few years. I can’t imagine life without these relationships. The church is to be defined by this type of community. We are grateful for our church body at Living Hope where many of these friendships exist.
3. God wastes nothing. The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of my favorite. Against all odds he continued to experience God’s purpose for him whether living on his father’s land or as a slave in Egypt. After the rejection and abuse by his brothers Joseph is reunited with them and says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 Joseph could overcome the emotional and physical devastation that was inflicted on him because he knew God would never abandon the plan for him and use his pain for the good of others. When our hope is in God and God alone we can overcome anything. I would often call my mom to share discouragement and she always had the same irritating response, I can’t wait to see what God does with this one”. She would remind me that God never wastes any experience in our lives, good or bad and he always has the last say. I believe that more than ever.
I am already seeing what God has accomplished because of my mom’s life and yes death. I am sure there is more to come!