I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ - Philippians 3:8, ESV
I am thankful for loss. This may seem contradictory, impossible, or even foolish to some. Others may hear that and think, well, “you don’t know what you’ve got til you lose it,” as Phil Collins sang. This is often true. Losing something makes me appreciate what I had, and even more so, what I still have, and who is still with me.
I didn’t appreciate the pantry full of food that sits just off my kitchen until one day I was temporarily homeless and had to go to a food pantry to acquire food that had been donated. I wasn’t thankful for my entire wardrobe of clothes and shoes until I lost it. I used to complain about going to the grocery store until I was told a story about a family member from Cuba who came to the United States for the first time. He walked into a grocery store and fell on his knees and wept at the abundance of food there to choose from, at the potential to buy more than he or his family could eat. In Cuba, the government told him how much he was allowed to buy. It wasn’t a matter merely of his being too poor to afford it. It was that there wasn’t enough food to go around, even if he had the money to buy more, though he wouldn’t have legally been allowed to. It was unfathomable to him that in America, we can buy all the food we want without the government regulating it, or that some people have so much money and spend so much on food, some need to regulate our diets because we are obese from over-consuming (not that this is the only reason for obesity, but that this reason even existing was beyond his comprehension).
We often don’t appreciate our jobs, our possessions, our friends, our family members, until we lose them, or they go away for a while, or we are stuck with the last words we said, or didn’t say to them.
I’m thankful for the good times I’ve had with the friends I’ve had and lost, those who have moved away and those who have passed on. But, as odd as it seems, I’m also thankful for the loss of them. Not to sound callused, and not only because it makes me appreciate them with fond memories, and not only because it helps me treat those who remain with more kindness, gentleness, and patience. But I am also thankful for the loss of those I have loved because in this, through this, Jesus draws me closer to Him. No other person can fill the void in my life of the people who have died. I may whisper to them at their graves the things I would have said to them, but I can’t feel their joy with me the way I used to when they were alive, except when I whisper it to my Father as well.
I can’t express the depths of my missing them to another person who can ever fully understand the loss of that relationship, except when I tell my Savior, who knows intimately, personally, my pain and all I feel and think. HE knows, He feels, He experiences it all with me. There was a time when no one else in my life shared the same sense of humor that I do and my sister did, who is now in heaven. One time I wanted desperately to share a weird joke that made me giggle with someone, anyone, and I had no human to turn to who would both understand and appreciate it, but my Father God was there. So I told Him. And I laughed. And I felt God’s pleasure, His joy, at my laughter. And I felt a piece of connection to Him and to my lost loved one, a spark of the joy that I felt laughing together when she was alive. When there was a quote she would have said and no one there to say it to, I whispered it, or said it in my mind, and God appreciated it.
When I had told the same story to friends 6 or 7 times to relive memories with my lost loved one, and I began to feel self-conscious, as if maybe I had said it too many times, I can say it to my God and He never tires of hearing.
I have less of that person in my life that I lost, yes, but they are not gone. I can still keep their memories alive in speaking and remembering them, their humor in retelling their jokes to those around me. And though I have less of the people I have lost, and there is sorrow, I have more of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), well acquainted with grief, even mine. I have a God who is big enough to fill in the gap, to fill in the hole in my heart that others left. I’m not empty because of each loss in my life—I am full and complete, in Christ, because He fills me. It’s inexplicable and unfathomable and impossible, because only a compassionate, all-powerful being who created me and knows my every thought and need and desire could do this. Only God can take each loss I’ve suffered, and use it to draw me closer to Him and make me more whole than I ever was before. “Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs.” -Thomas Fuller
But friendship with God is best because He takes on my grief, He holds it and me. He takes it on Himself so I never carry anything alone. And when I experience joy, He amplifies it. He feels it with me and it is doubled, and I don’t need to feel ashamed for laughing at a funeral remembering a joyful memory of the one I lost. I don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed for smiling or laughing again. I get to experience joy and grief, sadness and happiness in waves, and ride them with the God who created these emotions to be experienced, not repressed, nor bowed to as if they were my lord or leader.
Each emotion, each thought, each experience of my life can drive me closer to the God who loves and knows me more intimately than any person I could ever gain or lose, if I surrender it over to Him, experiencing it with Him. When I do this, the most wonderful thing of all happens. I discover that no human, nor any combination of human relationships, is ever enough to fill me, especially after a loss. Not even the closest friend or spouse will ever be what I need to make me feel complete, content, or the fullest joy we all seek. But God is, and was, and always will be, all of these things. Every time. “So I run to the Father, I fall into grace. I'm done with the hiding; No reason to wait. My heart needs a surgeon. My soul needs a friend. So I'll run to the Father Again and again.” (- Run to the Father, Cody Carnes)
So I am thankful for loss, because then I can go to the One who fills me. Again and again and again.
Every time I feel empty, drained, discontent, lonely, sad, excited, desperate to share, to talk, to be heard or understood, there is always One waiting to hear.
He is never unavailable.
He is never not listening or paying attention.
He is never too busy.
He never misunderstands me or doesn't get it.
He knows better than I do the words and thoughts and feelings I can't express.
And He is never not enough. He is perfect. He is my Father and Savior and Friend. He is not a human who will fail me, forget me, neglect me, leave me. He is my God.
He is the only One who died and came back for me, died for me.
He is always faithful even when I wander away. He allures me, gently draws me back in.
He is always as close as my own hand or ear, even when He feels distant because I have turned my face away.
He hears me when I think, when my heart sorrows too much to utter a word. He is my closest Friend.
And I am thankful that each loss in my life draws me ever closer to Him, deeper into Him and this relationship we have, until the day when He and I are finally reunited in heaven, never to be parted.
For more verses about this, read: James 1:2&12, Matt. 5:12, Romans 5:3, 1 Peter 1:6-7
Song suggestions: It Is Well, 40 Days (Third Day), Closer Than You Know
© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo
Bonney Block on August 04, 2021:
With losing my husband about a week ago, I really needed to be reminded of these things. Thank you for writing this.
Naude Lorenzo on August 04, 2021:
Wonderful and perfect timing message. thanks Amanda, you are always thinking of others, I'm sure this is a blessing to all the family