About a month ago, I walked through a situation that I could only explain with one word: sad. So when I came to chapter 11 entitled “Boundaries with Sadness” in the book I’m reading (Boundaries For Your Soul), I was ready.
Of my many highlighted quotes in the chapter, this was the most helpful:
It’s helpful to think of the causes of sadness in three categories: sadness as a response to the loss of something good, the loss of something bad, and the loss of what might have been.
Categories one and three I get and I’ve used to befriend my personal sadnesses recently. But category two tilted my head…until I read Maria’s story.
Maria, a bright woman, dated an abusive, addicted man for four years. When asked, “What keeps you from leaving?” she answered honestly, “I don’t want to face the pain.” She had given four years of her life to loving someone who had hurt her repeatedly. A part of her didn’t want to accept the reality that she had wasted so much time on a destructive, dead-end relationship. So she was choosing the pain she knew over the pain she didn’t know – and was missing an opportunity to move forward with her life.
I instantly understood category two. Choosing the pain we know can be crippling. Most likely we don’t know this is what we are doing until someone or some happening makes it clear to us. The strength and comfort when we allow the Spirit of God to assist us in facing that unknown pain is worth embracing to free us to move forward and start over.
However long it takes, the freed life-found by trusting God to help us face the unknown pain-awaits us. Rather than run from the sadness, we should turn into it. Why? Here’s a final quote from the chapter:
Pain becomes redemptive when it causes you to draw near to God and experience his power.
Had a bad day recently? In your life, what’s the hardest day you ever survived?
It’s hard to imagine a day much worse for anyone than the one described in Job 1. By the end of the chapter, Job had received four messages by surviving servants of four, life-shattering events. Between these events, Job lost 11,000 sheep, donkeys, camels and oxen as well as all ten of his children.
That’s a lot to lose in one day. Overwhelming. One would probably want retaliation or at the least some explanation. Surely there is an explanation, someone to hold accountable. However, even if he knew, he didn’t have any resources to do anything about it. So what did Job do. Here’s what the last verse of the chapter says:
“Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.” Job 1:22 HCSB
How is that possible? How does one lose everything and not sin? How does one react purely to devastation?
The answer is found in the relationship Job and God enjoyed before this overwhelming day. They regularly communicated giving Job the strength to live “blameless and upright.” God described Job to Satan as “one who fears me and shuns evil.”
This is the answer to why Job said after receiving these messages, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.” Job never claimed ownership of his stuff, and he never blamed God for doing wrong by him. He recognized God had blessed him with it and had now allowed it to be taken away. And he chose to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Everyone experiences loss; it’s part of life. To live trying to avoid loss is futile, even unrealistic. However, not all losses are the same.
For the purpose of this blog, let’s categorize losses in life under two headings: uncommon and common. Uncommon loss refers to loss that is traumatic, unforeseen, you might even say unnatural. The events of loss in Orlando in the last week are in this category. It’s difficult to imagine being thankful for uncommon types of loss. Common loss, on the other hand, refers to loss that can be expected, foreseen, you might say natural to life. Common losses include financial investments, jobs, relationships for various reasons including death to illness and natural causes. Once you’ve grieved a common loss, it is most definitely possible to be thankful for the loss. How might that look, being thankful for loss?
With a loss comes the opportunity to fill the space vacated. A door is open. A chance for re– to occur (see blog Thankful for Re- 1)
- When a home is lost due to fire, you can be thankful for the chance to rebuild. Ask Job.
- When hope is lost due to a leader leaving, you can be thankful for the chance to rethink the mission. Ask Peter.
- When your whole world seems lost due to God’s judgment for man’s actions, you can be thankful for the chance to rewrite history. Ask Noah.
- When your future plans are lost due to your husband’s death, you can be thankful for the chance to redirect those plans. Ask Ruth.
- When a friendship is lost due to jealousy and mental instability, you can be thankful for the chance to redefine friendship. Ask David.
In your common loss, look for the open door. Look for the re-. Be thankful for the re-.
What common loss have you grieved and can now find the re- to be thankful for? What got you to that place of thankfulness?