I recently finished reading Dr. David Clarke’s The 6 Steps to Emotional Freedom: Breaking Through to the Life God Wants You to Live (he’s also written Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars and The Total Marriage Makeover, the latter of which I have read and highly recommend—even if you’re single).
In the next-to-last chapter of Dr. Clarke’s latest, a few sentences stood out to me in regards to our personal response to loss in our lives:
“You’re stuck if you have not genuinely changed as a person, in your relationships with others, and in your relationship with God. The whole point of loss is change. Each loss ought to move you ahead in these three areas. … God wants you to experience positive change, and one of His main methods to promote change is loss.”
Whoa. When’s the last time any of us has looked at loss in our lives as something good? As something meant for positive change? As something from which we can gain?
It’s so much easier to become bitter, to stay depressed, to go into denial or to lash out in anger at anyone around us.
When I think back about all the loss I’ve experienced, I don’t know if I can see resulting positive changes every time. In some form or fashion, my life has been impacted by many types of loss: divorce, death, job loss, broken relationships, a church split, etc. Yes, some of these losses have grown me and strengthened my spiritual life. Others are still a painful work in progress.
In the Bible, Job has definitely got to be the poster child for loss. He had it all: great wealth, good health and multiple children. And then one by one, God allowed it all to be taken away.
There was great suffering. He agonized and felt alone. He cursed the day of his birth. I can imagine him thinking, “Please, God, I am so tired of hurting. I have nothing left. Why are you allowing this to happen to me? I don’t know how much longer I can be ‘strong,’ hold it together and act like everything is fine.”
But despite losing nearly everything, Job never curses God (although he is honest about his feelings). He honors His Creator and is faithful. Job sees that God’s way is the right way. He repents. And then God blesses him, giving him TWICE what he had before.
God doesn’t explain to Job why he allowed the suffering. And Job is okay with that. In fact, he goes on to live another 140 years: “He saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years” (Job 42).
We see that Job’s loss didn’t cripple him. He didn’t shrivel up his spirit and choose the bitter route for the rest of his days. No, what happened to Job only strengthened his relationship with God and matured his spiritual understanding. And that is the ultimate gain.
Like Job, are we faithful to God even when we endure loss in our lives?
Ask God today how, through your loss, He can help you gain positive change as a person, in your relationships with others and in your relationship with Him.