“Sooner or later all people suffer loss, in little doses or big ones, suddenly or over time, privately or in public settings. Loss is as much a part of normal life as birth for as surely as we are born into this world we will suffer loss before we leave it.” (A Grace Disguised) Jerry Sittser, the author of those words, knows about loss. On a curvy road in Idaho a drunk driver hit the car carrying his family and, in that instant, his beloved wife, mother, and daughter were torn from him, leaving him reeling and searching for a way through the darkness of grief! I, too, have known loss in recent years. Death has visited three times in my family, profound disappointment was the cup from which I drank when I made some major life changes that I believed to be the will of my Father.
Christian, no matter how fervently you pray, no matter how ‘careful’ you are, things will come your way that break you, that are hard, dark, and unwelcomed. We tacitly acknowledge the ‘risks’ of life when we purchase insurance, don’t we? Only a foolish person would not carry a policy on his home or auto. Why? Because we know that fires, spills, and accidents happen. But, for the greater losses, those of the heart and spirit, many go unprepared. Are you prepared to face the onslaught of sorrow, change, and/or disappointment?
The last 6 years of my life have taught me about the importance of a solid foundation. If I were without hope in God, without a refuge to which I can run in my sorrow, I am quite certain that the trials of life would have destroyed me. As it is, they have shaken me to the core. Here are the words of Jesus, counsel for times of loss. “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49, NLT)
A superficial Sunday morning, church-based Christianity is not going to carry you through loss! I have known many church-going people that have become bitter, self-absorbed people after some tragic event. The God to Whom they sang and the words they spoke about ‘faith’ become sounds that mock them. Jesus says that His words must be worked into our lives, understood and followed, becoming the Way we do all of life. Only then will there be a solid foundation that can withstand life’s inevitable storms. Loving God is often presented in a way that resembles a teen-age infatuation. Jesus is made into a kind of idol of affection that lets us avoid the dreary stuff of life as we dream about Him coming to sweep us into some blissful existence. Nice, but silly! That notion is about as real as a first crush is compared to the love of a real marriage!
Loving Jesus in a way that builds a solid foundation is about choices made every day, about seeking His Kingdom over our pleasure, about resisting temptation in pursuit of a life devoted to love and service. It is about worship that goes beyond upbeat praise tunes, that engages our spirit with His Spirit, in deep places of quiet and surrender! It is about spending time near the mysteries of life, willing to live in a place beyond easy answers and simple solutions. A God that is within our grasp of understanding is not big enough to be a Foundation for times of loss. Ask Job! I hate that book in the Bible! God allows a man who loves Him to suffer awful loss. He watches the man’s agony as it unfolds. But, I also desire the faith of Job who, in the middle of it all, declares (and proves with his life) “even if he killed me, I’d keep on hoping. I’d defend my innocence to the very end. Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation!” (The Message, Job 13:15-16) We have a perspective on Job’s experience that he did not have. We see a spiritual war going on that he could not see, yet he trusted in God and his life gave Him honor and glory. Did that mitigate his sufferings or dry his tears? Not at all! But, there was purpose in all the misery.
That is the foundation on which I stand today. While I do not understand all of the ways of my God, I trust that He will work for the very best, that He will bring honor to Himself in me if I will walk faithfully with Him; and that is enough until eternity reveals the rest.
Here is a word from the Word. May we stand on it, resting on His everlasting arms in good times and bad, on mountain tops and in deep valleys.
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—” (Romans 8:31-37, NIV)
Oh Lead Me
Oh lead me-
To the place where I can find You.
Oh lead me-
To the place where You’ll be.
Lead me to the cross,
Where we first met.
Draw me to my knees,
So we can talk.
Let me feel Your Breath,
Let me know
You’re here with me.
Martin Smith © 1994 Curious? Music UK (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055