Next Spring, I have an opportunity to deliver a message about loss. Naturally, I am thinking about a broad outline for the talk, and asking the Holy Spirit to guide the pen, and eventually the tongue. Loss is potentially a “glass half empty” subject, as it can easily focus on what was and no longer is.
Loss comes in many shapes and sizes. Loss of a loved one (through death or end of relationship), loss of career, loss of hopes and dreams, loss of health and independence…all these kinds of loss commonly intrude our existence on planet Earth. The extent to which we find ourselves affected by the loss comes in direct proportion to the degree of attachment we had to the object of our loss. Reading obituaries of those we did not know rarely engenders gut-wrenching grief, because we had no attachment to them. But the loss of a significant person can feel like a slow amputation, without anesthesia. And it can last for years.
The subject is huge and potentially overwhelming. Preparing a message will involve a process of elimination, I think. The other challenge I face is to present the subject of loss without depressing people. It is like a message about grief, really. We know it is an unpleasant part of life. Mostly, we choose not to think about it. Until we have to. Then we are poorly prepared. We rarely contemplate loss, or its origins.
When God created the world, and put man in the center of Eden, He called it “very good.” What was not good was for man to be alone there. So Eve emerges from Adam’s rib, and the first human relationship is born. Adam and Eve were meant to walk hand in hand in fellowship with God forever. There was only one thing God asked of them, that they not eat from the fruit of one particular tree in the garden. He warned that if they did, death (a foreign concept at the time) would enter their world. The outcome of their fateful decision continues to produce consequences to this day. When they were driven from Eden (the first loss) we were driven from the garden with them. Since that day, nothing on earth has remained the same. Nothing is permanent. All is subject to loss. As I wrote in a previous post about seasons, a silent river of sadness runs through the Eden we have lost.
Strangely, this is not all bad news. In a reality where nothing remains the same, we long for Someone unchanging. And there He is. Arms stretched out, tears of compassion and love brimming his eyes. Jesus loves us. Leaning into Him provides our comfort and strength until the day his promise to make all things new is ultimately fulfilled. And he provides others along the way, to be his hands, his feet, his comforting tongue. We all eventually walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but not necessarily alone.
In his mercy and love, God provided a plan to redeem all that we have lost. One day we will awake in a golden place, in bodies untouched by the effects of sin and decay. He even has a plan to redeem fallen creation by way of a new heaven and a new earth. All our loved ones in Christ will meet us there and we will do what we were meant to do from eternity past. Hand in hand, we will walk in fellowship with our Creator. All mysteries solved, every tear wiped from our eyes by His own hand.
This is what the scriptures describe as our “blessed hope.” In the meantime, we grieve for certain, but not as those without hope. It was man who brought the consequences of sin into the world, and that is why we need a Redeemer. Bless his holy Name.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, enters on our behalf.” Hebrews 6:19
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
“He 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.” Revelation 21:4
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