Loved, Wrested, Lost…By the Giver

I’ve watched a lot of heartbreak in the last few weeks. It makes me feel almost guilty to say that, because it hasn’t been my loss. No, I’ve felt pain as a ricochet, a blow bounced back, only slightly less forceful. I have watched loss strike violently at the hearts of my friends and I wonder if my comfort is sufficient or cheap.

Two have lost babies before birth. One knows her husband likely won’t be there to kiss her on January 1, 2015. Another lost her best buddy, a pup she’d loved from before she found her own husband. One buried a treasured aunt.

What do you say to loss when you cannot literally sidle up alongside and bear the brunt of it with the loved one pained?

You pray.

Unfortunately, even in Christian society, maybe especially in Christian society, that assurance has lost its power. It comes across as weak, timid, cursory and half-hearted. It’s the same feeling of resignation that births the statement, “I’ve done all I can. All that’s left is to pray.”

But this post isn’t intended to resurrect your passion for prayer, your conviction that it is the single most important, effective thing you can do for loved ones in pain, in the throes or on the precipice of loss. (Though it is.) If a renewed respect for prayer is a side effect of my words, may God receive glory.

No, this post is my own reflection on loss. It’s what I hope I recall the next time a beloved is wrenched from my hands.

Job 1:21 says, “…“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I wonder about God taking away. In truth, there’s a vast difference between something being lost or stolen, and something being gently tugged from clutching fingers by a loving Father.

When I was little, I recall my sister getting into the medicine cabinet. After watching Mom dole out vitamin C tablets to her older siblings, she wondered about the orange-colored “candy”. Why couldn’t she have some?

So, this little one climbed up on the counter, popped the child-proof cap and downed the rest of the bottle. When Mom found her, she was mauling the final “candies”. Hastily, Mom snatched the poison from little fingers. My sister cried.

The pain a child feels when a parent takes something away (even a bottle of vitamins–innately good but harmful for a child at that age) is when tiny fists grip it tightly and sting when the object is finally wrested away.

Though my experience of these recent pains is only an echo, I marvel at the strength bearing up my friends. I pause and take notice of their valor and humble submission to the God of “every good and perfect gift”.

It is vastly different to lose something, have it stolen or to understand, even welcome, the loving hands of a Father who takes it away.

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.

2 thoughts on “Loved, Wrested, Lost…By the Giver

  1. Wise words and an interesting story which gives a lot of food for thought !

    Yes, these losses are very sad and sharing some of the pain and showing unconditional friendship can help people through the steps in the process of bereavement. Just over a week ago, we heard that a former colleague and good friends had died overnight of a heart attack aged 49, leaving a wife and young children. Andy has a huge number of friends because he always respected and helped people and was always fun to be with. Some years ago he helped my wife tremendously and unselfishly in her career. He did the same for others. His family kept his Facebook pages open and literally hundreds of kind comments gathered there. But why should such a good man die so young ?

    We must never look for any logic in why people die, or suffer injury or loss. We don’t know what plans God has and I believe that God’s plans can change according to changing circumstances on Earth. Sometimes we do things which were unplanned and he then changes his plan and sometimes things happen beyond our control which means that plans need to be changed. I learnt the hard way not to try and get my head round why things happen or what might happen. We just need to let go and allow God to deal with things and he can turn pain into progress.

    God has also pulled me out of some very tricky situations in which I was about to be my own undoing. I will not allow myself to forget those times !

    Nevertheless, leaders around the world are squandering peace and allowing evil to step in. Thousands of lives and homes have been lost this year and governments and citizens should know better by now. Peace is priceless and something has to be lost to gain it. Every small thing we can do to encourage peace will help, but we need God to intervene and must pray non-stop for that, before the current terrible situations get even worse.

    I totally agree with you (as usual) that prayer should be our first resort and not our last ! We should pray thanks for all that we have and all that we do. We should pray that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit to keep us from harm. We should pray that Jesus will teach us to be as much like him as possible. We should pray for people who are suffering and ask God for guidance to build a new life.

    I learnt that miracles are not always sudden black to white / water to wine changes, but are usually more colourful and take much longer. However, in time, we can look back and see the miraculous pattern that took us from where we were to where we are, and have the comfort of knowing that God will, in the course of time, if we trust and love him, take us to where we need to be.

    I know I shared this with you before but it will help people who are going through a difficult time. It helped me :

    “Put thou thy trust in God,
    In duty’s path go on;
    Walk in His strength with faith and hope,
    So shall thy work be done.
    Give to the winds Thy fears;
    Hope, and be undismayed;
    God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
    God shall lift up thy head.

    Through waves, and clouds, and storms,
    His power will clear thy way;
    Wait thou His time, the darkest night
    Shall end in brightest day.”

    – John Wesley (trans. From Paul Gerhardt)

  2. David, I relish your wisdom! And as much as I attempt to “borrow it often” you have an unmatched wealth of resources! You have shared that poem with me before, but thank you for sharing it here!

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