June 9, 2011
Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NIV
It happened again just a little over two weeks ago.
In Joplin, Missouri, a town of only 50,000, a tornado swept through and leveled about 75 percent of what had been there. Churches, hospitals, shopping centers, homes … an entire community was nearly wiped out in minutes. And this only added to the previous flooding by the nearby Mississippi River that had already affected this area.
Friends of friends of mine lost almost everything in their home. And relatives of theirs lost everything. Everything but the clothes on their backs. But their lives were spared. And they’re now sleeping on cots in a church until they decide how to put the pieces of their lives back together.
Loss due to natural disasters continues to increase as the years go by; earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires … it seems like each week there’s a report of one of these catastrophic events somewhere in the world.
It can be overwhelming to watch such tragedy happen to others. Will we ever understand? Are we supposed to? Perhaps loss of any kind is simply a reminder to us that God is, and should be, the very center of our lives. And nothing or no one else should take his place of honor.
That’s what I’ve taken away from the major losses in my life. It helps to know that God is orchestrating, that he has a purpose and that he is near in times like these. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel or deny the impact of such great loss. The shock, the numbness. And then the pain and the intermittent suffering throughout the years.
We’ve all gone through loss of some kind in our lives …
The life-long best friendship that disintegrated over a dumb misunderstanding.
The job that would elevate one to the next level, but was eliminated after a corporate merger.
The marriage destroyed by pornography, unfaithfulness or abandonment.
The college student’s dream or hoped-for career path dashed by controlling, overbearing parents.
The promising romantic relationship that just didn’t translate to marriage.
The reputation now marred with the careless words or accusations of another.
The death of any family member or loved one held dear.
The burglary of a home and the dashed sense of security and peace of mind.
Loss hurts. In many cases, it can feel like someone is ripping out your heart right from your chest. You can’t breathe. You can’t feel. You don’t even know what day it is. And, at the time, you don’t care.
But time gives us perspective and some healing. And, in my own experience, I have found that profound loss can either refine us and draw us closer to Christ or cause us to reject the Creator and lead a life that is in outward rebellion to his leading in our lives.
I don’t offer this devotional as a solution or an answer to the loss you have in your life today. But I offer it as a reminder that life is not only what we see and what we cling to here on earth. It is so much more than that.
If we lift up our heads, that is a great place to start. And we will be looking in the right, and most satisfying, direction. Heavenward. Where we can find hope, salvation and everything we could ever want or need.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
You probably already knew that I’d tie in the book of Job somewhere in this devotional today, right? But where else better can we go in God’s Word when we are looking for comfort in the aftermath of loss? Job wanted to understand why God was doing or allowing what he was. But maybe the bigger lesson learned here is that God is God, and we are not. His ways and purposes are higher. And if we never fully understand why we must suffer this side of heaven, we should still praise a sovereign Lord as Job did: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21-22).
Psa. 34:17-19, NIV
Rom. 8:17-18, NIV
James 5:10-11, NIV