The following is an excerpt from the introduction of my latest book, The Way Back From Loss.
The experience of loss often involves intense emotions, pain, confusion, guilt, and even a sense of abandonment and fear. It’s not an easy time. Most often it’s the result of adverse life events and it comes at unexpected times.
William Shakespeare summed up what many feel about loss when he wrote:
Clear wells spring not,
Sweet birds sing not,
Loud bells ring not cheerfully;
Herds stand weeping,
Flocks all sleeping,
Nymphs back creeping fearfully.[i]
Cheer is replaced by fear. We don’t hear the birds and even the water tastes funny. We try to walk our normal life’s path, but things are askew. We feel totally out of control.
Loss brings a person to a point of desperate grief. We ask, “Where is God and why does He allow this to happen, to me?” We want answers on the road of seeking hope. We try to move forward, but we’re pulled backward by memories, regrets, second thoughts, and fear.
Even so, loss is at the heart of life and growth. While this may seem a bit odd or paradoxical, the reality is that new life, change, and forward movement only come as a result of losing (changing) a prior lifestyle, profession, relationship, life pattern, or a person you love. Ultimately the pain leads to spiritual maturity and a deeper relationship with God. Elbert Hubbard wrote in The Note Book, “God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.”[ii] He’s saying that experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with the experience of what happens to you that matters most.
The feelings of loss can cause a faith crisis. We ask God “why?” and “how?” and His promises, presence, and peace seem distant and obscure. We hear the voice of negativity, blame, or regret instead of the soothing voice of a God who loves and protects us.
Without a doubt, the challenges you are facing today are complex. New structures, new homes, new ways of doing things, new friends, old friends—figuring out how to handle it all wears you down. Your own grief process saps energy, puts your emotions on edge, and, in most cases, leads you to times of ambivalence or the unpleasant impulses toward escape or avoidance.
God wants to meet you where you are today, take your hand, and walk with you toward healing. This is a journey that involves seeing loss as a season in life where God is at work “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 NASB). While the road is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and struggle, the process will uncover rich, godly treasure that awaits the child of God who walks by faith, trusting and depending upon Jesus.
[i] William Shakespeare, The Works of William Shakespeare (London: Isaac, Tucked, and Co. 1836), 955.
[ii] Alice Hubbard, An American Bible (East Aurora, NY: The Roycrofters, 1918), 355.