“Therefore, comfort and encourage one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:18
I lost my mom to cancer at the beginning of my senior school year. At the end of that year, on my way to my summer job, I was involved in an accident that caused me to lose everything I owned. My girlfriend, who is now my wife, was injured in the accident making that year one of incredible loss.
Recently, I saw a post by a friend whose father is deteriorating in ways we all must face one day. My friend’s father gave me a job the summer after my senior year in high school. The man and his family gave me a place to live, fed me, and paid me for driving one of his combine harvesters. It was a challenging summer, to say the least. And yet one which offered opportunities for healing.
During that three year period, I went through a time of incredible loss without the understanding of how much we need to grieve. Today, nearly 40 years later, the pain I experienced from those losses can still be felt. The grieving process never ceases. We either learn to endure or cope with our losses.
Just how rapidly the aging process has caught up with me and with those I love and respect had escaped me until the last few months. It is happening much more quickly than I care to acknowledge. However, I know I must face and accept the fact that I have lived over two-thirds of my life, and the loss of those I love and care about will only increase as time continues.
Loss comes in many ways and forms, always delivering with it pain and grief. Then we are left with the challenge of dealing with the fallout of that grief. With grief and pain comes the process of mourning the losses we are experiencing and those we have experienced.
Our losses may be of losing those we love, careers, family heirlooms, relationships, and even the pain we feel as loved ones and friends suffer their losses. We are then left to deal with those losses even as we continue with the responsibilities of daily living.
“Now also we would not have you be ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave].” I Thessalonians 4:13 Amplified Bible
It is important to recognize and understand we need to grieve our losses no matter what they are, or how they are delivered into our lives. However, as disciples of Jesus Christ, Paul encourages us to know we all grieve. Christians grieve; it is necessary for our mental and emotional health. Remember God created us with emotions, feelings, the ability to know pain and pleasure. We would rather skip the pain and only have the joy of pleasure, yet without the pain, we would never know what joy or pleasure mean. We would have no idea of how much we need each of these in our lives to have the compassion that’s foundational to our Christian experience.
There is another aspect to this issue of loss and grieving. That is, we grieve differently, and this reality often causes separation, misunderstandings, and the fear that those we love are not feeling the pain as we are. Of course no one can feel the pain of another, but only one’s own. Because of this, I believe patience and education concerning the grieving and mourning process are crucial. The truth is that we all, no matter who we are, experience loss in all it’s forms.
Yet we know that our grieving and mourning process is significantly different from that of those who do not know the hope we have in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That reality changes everything for us if we will allow the truth to flow deep into our hearts and minds. Knowing Jesus changes every challenge we face, especially our losses.
“For you shall go out [from the spiritual exile caused by sin and evil into the homeland] with joy and be led forth [your leader, the Lord Himself, and His word] with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12 Amplified Bible