Dealing with Loss
“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him”
– Romans 8:28
Hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, was blinded at the age of two months when a man pretending to be a doctor prescribed the application of a mustard poultice to her eyes as a treatment for an illness. Her illness subsided, but she was left permanently blind. From a young age, she exhibited a positive attitude concerning her loss of sight. At the age of eight she wrote her first song:
Oh, what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind I cannot, and I won’t!
A well-meaning pastor once told her, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you.” Fanny replied, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”
Some losses are more difficult to bear than others: The loss of a spouse is far more devastating than the loss of a job. Losing a child carries a much deeper level of pain than losing a fortune. During the pandemic of 2020 people have suffered the loss of loved ones and the destabilization of everything that is familiar.
When dealing with a loss there are three things that can encourage your heart:
- Depend on God’s Word. Psalm 19:8 tells us that “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.” Psalm 119:28 says, “My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word.” God’s word can offer strength and comfort when what we perceive to be foundational pillars begin to crumble.
- Encourage someone else. Offering hope to someone else enhances our own level of hope when we have suffered a loss. The apostle Paul admonishes, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thess. 5:11) We live in a community. As we offer encouragement to someone else, our own hearts are strengthened. “Focusing on God in the present moment is an antidote to self-pity and despair…I can help others because I am not focused on myself.” (Glen Argon)
- Keep a positive attitude. This doesn’t mean to deny that you have experienced a difficult situation or to pretend that you aren’t facing adversity. It means that your focus is on the eternal, not the temporary. Theologian Watchman Nee gives this counsel, “If one keeps looking at his difficulties, he will surely find no hope in the situation. God does not want us to set our eyes on the mountains obstructing our path; He wants us to say to the mountains, “Be taken up and cast into the sea” (Mark11:23) Often what we consider to be a loss can be viewed as a gain when seen from an eternal perspective. Every material possession is a gift from God. We need to hold all of His gifts with an open hand, allowing Him to take out or put in as He deems best.
A month shy of her ninety-fifth birthday Fanny Crosby wrote her final stanza, “You will reach the river brink, some sweet day, by and by.” She kept her eyes on her final destination. She viewed her losses from an eternal perspective, knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28) Be encouraged when it seems that you have lost something of great value. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Pray: Father, Thank you for helping me see that what some people consider loss might actually be gain! Help me to hold each of your blessings with an open palm, willing to allow you to put in or remove whatever is best.
John G. Gage
Retired worship pastor
Excerpt from “Encouragement in Adversity: Hope for the Hurting Heart” by John G. Gage