In the ancient book of Job, the Bible’s story of one man’s terrible trials, there is this pithy observation – “People are born for trouble as predictably as sparks fly upward from a fire.” (Job 5:7, NLT) Simply said, loss and disappointment are included in this thing that we know as ‘being human.’ Today I remember loss with sharp pain of grief on this 6th anniversary of my wife’s death. That has left a wound in my life that has not fully healed.
I do not write that in self-pity or seeking sympathy for I know that that all of us must cope with loss. It finds us in so many ways – sickness, death, divorce, addiction, job loss, pandemic, war – it’s a long list! I hasten to add that life can be rich in joy and fulfillment, too. I have known countless blessings in my days for which I am profoundly grateful.
How can we live with loss, doing well in spite of the grief that will come to us all?
Life must be lived with realism and acceptance.
How quickly an illusion that we can control life will consume us. Blessed with strength, full of optimism, we set out on the adventure of life. Our marriage is going to be the best ever. Our job is going to be fulfilling and productive. Our friendships will be rich and last for a lifetime. Until … failure comes; sickness visits, a child dies, our spouse turns out not to be the angel we imagined but rather an ordinary sinner.
Millions experience the death of their dreams and conclude it must be their fault. If only they were smarter, richer, or famous they could make their life work. Believing the lie so many turn in people filled with envy and bitterness. Others refuse to deal with life and work mightily to sustain the fantasy of unending youth to hide their pain, or the pursuit of ‘success’ to prove their worth, or sensual pleasure in an attempt to soothe a troubled soul. Some will turn to alcohol or drugs to mask the ache of loss. The wise will understand what they can control and what they cannot and learn to accept each season as it comes.
If we realize that we are not just body and emotions, that God has made us with an eternal soul, we can find meaning and fulfillment that sustains us in those changing seasons, that equips us to kind of person that leaves a blessing wherever she goes.
Life is richest when we anchor our hope in the promises of God.
Solomon, the rich king of Israel, lived for himself, accomplishing much, experiencing every pleasure that could be known. As an old man, full of regret, he offered this wisdom to us. “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy living. It will be too late then to remember him, when the light of the sun and moon and stars is dim to your old eyes, and there is no silver lining left among the clouds.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-2, NLT) “Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, NLT)
I listened to a man, 80 years of age, who has lived richly, a leader of others known world-wide, a godly scholar, talk about his recent encounter with cancer. He was not angry, nor was he bitter. He acknowledged that mortality crept up on him, surprising him. But, from the well of his relationship with God, he had drawn real and sustaining hope. “In my physical weakness, I have found my spirit growing stronger, my relationship with God deepening” he said. How can he face the limits of human existence with hope? Because he knows his Creator through Christ Jesus and lives in faith that the grave is not the end.
Paul, the apostle, tells us that he prayed for God to remove a troubling hardship. It did not happen. Rather God told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV)
Life need not be grim, nor must we surrender to the sorrow. But, if we would live well, we must look higher in faith. Don’t be taken in by that superficial and fake ‘faith’ that insists you can pray away every problem, claim health and wealth as your God-given right. That is no faith, at all. It is simply an extension of human pride. Real faith rests on the Person and promise of God Who has promised His Kingdom come to us all and assured us of that hope in the Resurrection of His Son, who overcame death, Hell, and the grave for us.
So, deal with life as it is.
Pray for grace.
Keep faith and live in hope – that there more to life than we can see with our human eyes.
Here is the word from the Word. “So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. …
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And because God raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God. …
As the prophet says, “People are like grass that dies away; their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of wildflowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall away. But the word of the Lord will last forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:13-15, 21, 24-25, NLT)
(Video of this blog at this link)
Beneath The Cross Of Jesus (Saint Christopher)
Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand
The shadow of a mighty rock
Within a weary land
A home within the wilderness
A rest upon the way
From the burning of the noontide heat
And the burden of the day
Upon the cross of Jesus
Mine eyes at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me
And from my smitten heart with tears
Two wonders I confess
The wonder of redeeming love
And my unworthiness
I take O cross thy shadow
For my abiding place
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face
Content to let the world go by
To know no gain nor loss
My sinful self my only shame
My glory all the cross
Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane | Frederick Charles Maker
© Words: Public Domain