Friends …

Experiencing Christ’s love surpasses knowledge. — Eph. 3:19 (OGV)

I have been in the presence of loss more than most.  A brief count for me – I’ve been involved with over 500 deaths involving thousands of grieving relatives and friends.  I could include losses from divorce, loss of jobs, accidents, and illness.

Everyone deals with loss in a different manner and there is no quick formula for healing, actually no formula at all.

I have observed in 50 years of ministry, what I describe as “Five Healing Changes for Loss”.  Not an easy to follow ‘5 steps’ but attitude or lifestyle changes that I have noticed in those who heal.

  1. They don’t try to explain mystery. There are ultimate reasons for all tragedy that don’t comfort at the moment of loss.  Someone who heals well accepts ‘not knowing or understanding’ by faith. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that when Jesus comes we will know as we have been known.
  2. They focus on what they can be thankful about. Rejoicing is a discipline and an art. You have to determine to be grateful and you have to find a creative way to do it. I remember a wife writing a ‘how thankful I am for you’ note to everyone who attended a funeral. Not just thankful for them attending the funeral but thankful for them.
  3. They start something new that is small. It is never a good idea to have a rebound relationship but a rebound project or hobby or mission trip is great. Be careful as large change can be falsely motivated by pain and actually increase the pain. Small changes allow a momentary switch from preoccupation with the pain, advancing the quiet shift to a new normal.
  4. They begin again with God. A lot of pain is the result of our own decisions or the wrongful decisions with others. God can take your expressions of disappointment with Him. But those who heal, sooner or later correctly assess their fault with the loss and seek repentance. They also forgive others.  Grace and mercy are the essential elements of God’s healing presence.
  5. They build memorials.  There are memorials everywhere — battlefield, graveyards, and statues. A memorial doesn’t have to be made of granite or brass … it can be a college memorial scholarship fund or a quiet place with a bench that you visit. A memorial is a place, something tangible, where you can remember and leave grief. A place you visit often or never visit, but knowing there is a place … substance … releases grief.

Others call me in the midst of grief for something specific. This has been a great difficulty of my career, as I feel their pain and can sit with them, but words fall short.

Instead of explaining, I pray for God’s presence to be in their lives. There is a peace that comes from the presence of God.  This peace surpasses understanding.  During my intense times of loss, Jesus came and sat down with me.

Which brings one last encouragement.  Those who have a relationship with Jesus have the presence of Jesus immediately at loss. We prepare for loss in advance by following Jesus.

Experiencing Christ’s love surpasses knowledge. — Eph. 3:19 (OGV)