The Way Back from Loss
The experience of loss often involves intense emotions, pain, confusion, guilt, and even a sense of abandonment and fear. It’s not an easy time. Most often it’s the result of adverse life events, and it comes at unexpected times.
William Shakespeare summed up what many feel about loss when he wrote:
Clear wells spring not, sweet birds sing not,
Green plants bring not forth their dye;
Herds stand weeping, flocks all sleeping,
Nymphs back peeping fearfully.1
Cheer is replaced by fear. We don’t hear the birds, and even the water tastes funny. We try to walk our normal life’s path, but things are askew. We feel totally out of control.
Loss brings a person to a point of desperate grief. We ask, “Where is God, and why does He allow this to happen to me?” We want answers in our search for hope. We try to move forward, but we’re pulled backward by memories, regrets, second thoughts, and fear.
Even so, loss is at the heart of life and growth. While this may seem a bit odd or paradoxical, the reality is that new life, change, and forward movement only come as a result of losing (changing) a prior lifestyle, profession, relationship, life pattern, or person you love. Ultimately the pain leads to spiritual maturity and a deeper relationship with God. Elbert Hubbard wrote in his Note Book, “God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.”2
He’s saying that what matters most is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.
The feeling of loss can cause a crisis of faith. We ask God “Why?” and “How?”; His promises, presence, and peace seem distant and obscure. We hear the voice of negativity, blame, or regret instead of the soothing voice of a God who loves and protects us.
Without a doubt, the challenges you face today are complex. New workplace structures, new homes, new ways of doing things, new friends, old friends—figuring out how to handle it all wears you down. Your personal grief process saps your energy, puts your emotions on edge, and, in many
cases, leads you to periods of ambivalence or unpleasant impulses toward escape or avoidance.
God wants to meet you where you are today, take you by the hand, and walk with you toward healing. This is a journey that involves seeing loss as a season in life during which God is at work “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, NASB). While the road is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and struggle, the process will uncover the rich, godly treasure that awaits the child of God who walks by faith, trusting in and depending upon Jesus.
My prayer is that these devotions will help you navigate this journey and emerge on the other side of grief into a life of joy and fulfillment. You’ll notice that these devotions are shared in a progressive order—through the following five parts that will walk you gently through your time of loss and healing:
1. Finding Peace in the Storm
2. Trusting God
3. Throwing Off Hindrances
4. Choosing Growth and Hope
5. Learning to Walk Again
I also pray that God will use this book to speak to you—that it will be His gift to you as He helps you on this journey
toward healing. It’s written specifically to guide you through sixty days of seeing and understanding God’s presence, purpose, and promises. It’s not a clinical guide or a list of seven easy steps; it’s reflective and devotional, and it offers you a bridge to the waiting, open arms of Jesus, who knows your pain and desperately wants to help you.
This book is designed for anyone experiencing a loss. You may be grieving one or more of the following:
Job loss or career setbacks
Separation or divorce
Chronic, life-threatening, or terminal illness
Loss of relationship or home
Estrangement from friend
Loss of culture
Loss due to life transitions
Reversal of expectations
Disappearance of a dream
Death of a loved one
Whatever the loss, this book can help you restore your belief and faith in the hope, love, and security of God’s promises.
The five parts of The Way Back from Loss are ordered so as to build upon each other. You can think of each section as a stepping-stone on a path, and like any trusted path, they offer
direction toward an ultimate destination. They’re designed to lead you into seeing and experiencing God’s presence, hope, and healing.
Throughout this book we’ll be learning about things like building trust in God, taking thoughts captive, releasing faith, and taking actions of obedience. You will notice repetition of key thoughts or biblical concepts. This is intentional. Paul, David, and Jesus (among others in the Bible) frequently used repetition to combat doubt and to remind their listeners to keep believing in and practicing fundamental truths. This book uses the same technique to help strengthen you, your faith, and your understanding of God’s Word.
Every daily reading is structured to help you make choices that will keep you on the path of growth and hope. When loss blows our lives to smithereens, we begin making choices—whether we realize it or not—that establish a process for getting through it. While every experience of loss is unique to each individual and each circumstance, the choices we make along the way greatly impact our journey and destination. This book will ask you to make choices—not based on feelings, thoughts, or circumstances, but on God’s Word. To that end, each devotion is followed by three sections: Insight helps you glean a critical truth from God’s Word, the heart of the message of the devotion. Prayer leads you in submitting yourself to the Lord and expressing your dependence on
Him. Life Choices is the culmination of the entire reading—it brings you to a daily decision point in your ongoing personal healing process and guides you in applying the powerful truth God has shown you through His Word.
The Life Choices section for each devotion will cause you to stop and reflect on three things: His Word, a deeper understanding of His Truth, and a new thought or choice brought to your healing process through a Discover section.
Enduring the Journey
Your loss, whatever it is, is deeply personal and uniquely painful. No one book, outside of God’s Word, can bring you complete healing and comfort. However, The Way Back from Loss can help you endure. It can give you hope and inspiration. It can bring you close to God’s presence, promises, and purpose. It can help you stay on the path He has laid before you and keep your eyes focused on heaven.
Thank you for allowing this book to be part of your journey.
God bless you,
The Way Back from Loss
CROSSING THE RIVER
It’s about shifting from “trust” as a noun to “trust” as a verb.1
—Stephen R. Covey
Today’s Verse: You enlarged my path under me; so my feet did not slip (2 Samuel 22:37 NKJV).
We are like people who are crossing a rushing river. We can’t see the other side, but we know we need to get there. In front of us, in the water, is a line of stones. We step from stone to stone on our quest to cross to the other side. Sometimes we’re fearful and don’t want to take the next step. Sometimes our feet get wet, either from slipping off a stone or simply from the force and current of the rushing water. Slowly we progress from stone to stone. We slip and slide, but we make it. The best way to reach the next stone is by taking God’s hand. He gently helps and leads us, as any good parent would
help their child take those first few steps. Sometimes we let God help; sometimes we don’t.2
Loss can paralyze us in our journey across the river. The unknown is a scary place. Though you want to go back and change the past, you can’t. An organizational shakeup at the office, the passing of a loved one, or a disrupted relationship has devastated you. You are stuck, and the water (circumstances, ego, financial pressure, the economy, etc.) threatens to engulf you.
You desperately cling to each rock while you work up the faith and trust to move to the next one. You may try to jump ahead a couple of stones and end up falling into the water. The path changes without warning. It’s cold, wet, and uncomfortable; and you cannot clearly see what’s ahead. You don’t know the way. Your faith is tested, and all you can do is cry out for help.
Trust gets us moving again. Only God knows the twists and turns of our lives and when any of us will ultimately make it to the other side. Deep and strong trust in Him is what keeps us going.
We need help and perspective. Recovery is not as easy as sending out a few résumés or receiving well-intentioned sympathy cards.
God says, “Hold on. I will show you the path. I will enlarge it and keep your feet from slipping. Just trust Me.”
The first thing we need to do is take Him at His word. Grab His hand and do not let go. Completely trust the
Creator of the universe for every step, every direction, and every minute of each day.
We are all on a journey, and there are times when we slip or when the way forward is unclear. Know that God’s hand is there, ready to lead you to the next stone.
Ask God for His peace. Tell Him your fears, hopes, and dreams, and seek His direction and guidance. Ask Him to help you to trust and be open to His gentle leading.
• Study 2 Samuel 22:3 and 31, Psalm 7:1, and Psalm 18:30. Commit to reading these scriptures every day to build your trust in Him.
• Understand that what you may be holding on to isn’t what is best for you. Ask yourself, “What do I need to let go of in my life so that I can trust in God more?” Let God show you what is blocking you from moving to that next stone.
• Discover the power of sharing your vision and dreams for the future with someone who can pray for and/or mentor you. Oftentimes speaking our dreams and asking for help from others allows us to see the future more clearly.