Losses, especially those caused by the death of a loved one, have a way of distorting our vision and robbing us of the faith and joy that are characteristic of the abundant life Jesus promised to those who put their faith and trust in Him. Losses leave a void that, unless dealt with, lead to unhealthy and destructive patterns of behavior. “Letting go” is a foundational principle of dealing with loss, whether it is the loss of a person, possession, purpose, relationship, or one’s freedom. This is often our greatest challenge, and only through coming to terms with our loss will we see our gain—more of Christ and His purposes and less of our self-interests, temporal interests, and pleasures.
The recent death of a close friend prompted me to list and reflect on many of the losses I have experienced throughout my life. I was astounded by the number of losses I had endured. Yet, in recalling and reflecting on each one, I was able to see how God had been faithful to comfort, guide, and bring good from even the most devastating losses. My life is full now because He not only comforted me by His Spirit then, but over time has replaced the temporary loss with eternal gain through a greater knowledge of Him and His hand on my life. Peace in the midst of loss is among the greatest gift I have gained.
As we reflect upon Jesus’ crucifixion during this Easter season, we can only imagine how the disciples struggled as they watched the One in whom they had put their hopes and trust die on a rugged cross in seeming defeat. Despite Jesus having warned them of His ultimate death, they were so caught up in their own hopes and expectations that they fled in panic. Peter, who had promised to die defending Jesus, denied he even knew Him. (Mark 14:66-72)
But for the disciples, despair was short-lived. Jesus’ resurrection three days later gave not only a renewed sense of hope but a drastically different outlook on life and death. Jesus had healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and raised the dead to life, but now He had been victorious over the enemy’s greatest weapon---death! They lost an earthly hero but gained a Savior and a whole new purpose in life. Not only had He overcome, but He had paid the price for all mankind’s sins! No one need fear the penalty of death if they simply confess their sin and trust Him as the sacrificial lamb to atone for their sins.
In Colossians 1:24, Paul writes amidst imprisonment and persecution: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church…” Jesus had warned that followers would suffer persecution as He had. Suffering and loss tend to reorder our priorities and cause us to view eternal values with greater importance than temporal ones.
The abundant life Jesus promised is not a problem-free or easy earthly life. Rather, it is one in which His all-sufficient grace, supernatural power, strength, and comfort will see us through losses incurred with the gain of eternal life with Him. The abundance of peace and joy and the absence of pain and suffering awaits those who gain life through loss of their own. Accept His love, grace, and mercy and begin preparing for the abundant life He promised.