Sometimes life delivers us losses we don’t like or didn’t expect. All of us go through experiences, and perhaps extended seasons, when people or things are taken from us. It could be the death of loved ones, the termination of a job, the relocation of a great friend, transitions in relationships, a child going off to college, or a number of other things that hurt deeply.
Life gives, and it also takes away. And if we’re not careful, we can allow the “take aways” to slowly destroy us. We can allow them to make us sour, bitter and hard. We can allow them to cause us to spiritually and emotionally “pull the blinds” and shut out the world around us. If we’re not careful, our grief can turn into dark despair.
How do we avoid such a fate? How are we supposed to handle the losses in our lives, especially as Christian believers?
The Apostle Paul wrote about the attitude that helps get us through our grief. That attitude is hope. We don’t have to let our grief rob us of our hope!
Brothers, we do not want you … to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. — 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)
How do we hold on to hope in the face of our losses? Here are a few things that help us deal with grief the right way:
Know that a season of grief is good and it’s normal. It’s only dysfunctional if you get stuck in the season, unable to eventually work your way out.
Admit your grief to God. Talk to Him about it. He can handle, and help you handle, your emotions.
Ask “what” questions instead of “why” questions. Instead of asking why the loss happened, ask what you can learn from the loss. What good purpose can the pain serve?
Surround yourself with godly, loving, supportive people who can help you work and walk through your grief.
Surrender your pain to God, trusting Him to fulfill His purposes in your life.
If you get stuck in your grief, get help through a grief group, or a mature and trained spiritual leader or counselor.
As you are able, change your focus from who or what you have lost to what you have left. This doesn’t mean that you let go of the good memories, it means that you begin taking inventory and expressing gratitude for the blessings that remain in your life.
Refuse to let your pain or anger turn to isolation, bitterness or hardness of heart.
As soon as you can, start serving others in some way. There’s nothing as therapeutic as reaching out and ministering to others. Turn your pain into productive service.
Keep an eternal perspective. Know that heaven and eternity are real, and that you will “understand it better by and by!”
Have you had any losses lately? God knows. God cares. And God is able to carry you through to the life that’s beyond your losses!