The Privileged Life: How to Handle a Disappointing Loss
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
On Saturday morning, we woke up to a beautiful snowfall with large, chunky flakes. Just spectacular.
It’s not uncommon in the South to have late snows, even into April. But this snow was on the heels of a warm spell that teased us into thinking spring had arrived. Daffodils were popping up all over, and redbud trees were just starting to blush among the bare trees of winter.
The rule around our Tennessee mountains is this: never plant anything before Mother’s Day in May. Anything blooming early is doomed to be caught by a late freeze.
Last year, our apple trees were festooned in pink blossoms. Then, a sharp dip of the mercury changed the once gorgeous blossoms into shriveled shreds. Between the freeze and the deer chewing on the tree limbs, we had no apples last summer. Not a single one.
I greatly sympathize with farmers whose livelihoods depend on frost-free weather. One cold snap, and all the blooms wither and die. Nothing left for bearing fruit. An entire year’s crop vanishing in one night.
The apple trees’ plight is an apt example of the losses we experience in life. Some come on gradually, but many of them happen overnight, catching us off-guard.
How do we, as Christ-followers, handle loss and disappointment? What can we do in the aftermath? Here are just a few thoughts….
First, stay calm…and pray. In the agonizing moments after a sudden loss, we have a tendency to rush around, trying to salvage anything, something. We can easily expend frantic energy in second-guessing, attempting to fix things, trying to absorb the ramifications. But our prayers need to focus on asking for the peace of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to ground us in His promises and to shelter us. Lift up your laments to Him, and ask Him for His comfort.
Second, accept the loss for what it is…a loss. It’s okay to grieve a bit in private and in public. Let people see your humanity as a Christian. We’re not perfect, and even Christ grieved visibly (with tears and laments) in the face of sorrow. Yet, at the same time, recognize that loss is a regular part of life, like the changing seasons. In our fallen world, it’s the norm, no matter what your expectations. God has allowed it to happen, for His purposes that we can’t see.
Third, remember God’s faithfulness to you in the past. Whether your loss is temporary or permanent, whether its impact is small or overwhelming, we are commanded to give thanks to God in all situations. That’s a difficult calling when we have no emotions left for praise, when grief or discomfort lingers. It becomes easier, though, when you focus on ways He has blessed you in the past and continues to hold you in His hands in the moment. He has never left you and will never forsake you.
Fourth, get help. Read God’s word, spend time in worship, and reach out to other believers. While you have to deal with some losses alone, most of them can be eased by dwelling on the hope in Scripture, entering the presence of God in worship, and finding encouragement from godly friends. Seek Christian counselors if depression persists.
Finally, set your sights on the future. Remember the good years, and then focus on what lies ahead. Resist the urge to let this season of loss or disappointment color your perspective of your entire life. If you are alive and breathing, God still has a purpose for you. He wants You to love Him, serve Him, tell others about Him. He especially wants you to honor His Son, Jesus, and center your life on Him…not your losses.
When Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, you have to trust Him—which means trusting His sovereignty over events in your life, trusting His plans, trusting His timing. He doesn’t expect our faith to be strong enough to do this on our own…He provides His own power to help us endure our losses.
Are you disappointed right now over some event or change? Cast your cares upon Him, and put Your faith in His sovereignty over your life. Like the apple trees, you will weather the storms—and find fruitfulness in His timing.*
Lord, how we wish all of life were smooth sailing…but our sinful nature and fallen world bring sorrows, losses, and disappointments to our doorsteps. Please grant us Your strength to endure them with grace, Your patience to wait on Your provision, and Your joy to look beyond them for Your blessings. You are so good to us, Lord…let us never forget it or Your abiding love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Please continue to pray for the people in the Ukraine, and for the people of Russia to end this brutal war….
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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Here’s the good news of God’s grace for you:
The foundation of the Christian life is our faith in the Good News of God’s grace. The Living and True God is a God of justice and of mercy. Every person at one time bears the guilt of sinful rebellion against God and is separated by that sin from a relationship with Him. God’s holy justice requires punishment for human sin, but out of His love and mercy He gave His Son Jesus Christ to become the Savior of all who will trust in Him.
Christ became a man to fulfill the righteous requirements of God’s Law on their behalf, and to bear the punishment of their sins through His death on Calvary’s cross so that they can be forgiven and adopted into God’s eternal family.
Contrary to much of popular belief, we cannot earn the forgiveness of our sin and the inheritance of eternal life with God by being good enough to merit these blessings. The Bible teaches that as sinners we can never be good enough on our own merit. But God offers us these benefits as a free gift, purchased in love by the holy life and the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
We accept this gift by placing our faith in Christ, repenting of our sins and trusting in His death as the means of our forgiveness and acceptance by God, receiving Him as our Savior and Lord. You may express this by praying a prayer in faith like the one that follows:
Dear Father, I believe that Jesus Christ is Your only begotten Son, and that He became a human being, shed His blood and died on the cross to pay the penalty and clean away the sin that has separated me from You. I believe that He rose bodily from the dead to give me new life. Lord Jesus, I invite You and ask You to come into my heart. I confess my sins, and ask You to forgive me. I accept You as my Savior and Lord. I want to turn from my sins and pray that Your Holy Spirit will help me follow Your way. I believe that You have come and are living in me right now. Thank You, Lord. In Your Name I pray, Amen.
(By Dr. James E. Richter, Retired Pastor, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee)