From the Pastor
Griefs and Losses
There are different types of losses. We have all been through one or another. The most painful loss is certainly the loss of a loved one. Because we are so connected with the person who has left or is now gone, we feel we have lost part of ourselves, as well. There are also other losses, which though not as deep and troubling as the loss of a loved one, can still cause much pain and suffering. Losses can also take the form of the deprivation of a valuable possession. It can be the waning of ability and privilege or the impairment of one’s sense of control. Loss can come from displacement from family and community and a loss of a sense of belonging. Often, because memories are attached to these things and because our losses affect our relationships, our pain is compounded.
We can react to loss in many ways: we can deny these feelings exist or we can be optimistic beyond what is realistic. Neither of these ways respect the person who is suffering because it rejects what it is that the person is going through.
There have been recent losses in our church community such as deaths, people moving away, families breaking apart in divorce, some are going through the loss of physical strength as they age or because of disease. Some of the folk around us in church on Sunday really hurt.
The Bible teaches us how to deal with grief. When the Kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians, they experienced much suffering. They did not only lose their loved ones, they also lost everything including their way of life. When the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians, Nehemiah was finally able to return to Jerusalem, he tried to rebuild the walls first but the people were not ready. They were governed by their grief and were suspicious, fearful and angry. No amount of physical rebuilding could heal their hearts. Finally, the scriptures were read to the people and they saw how they suffered and how they remained fearful and angry, unable to rebuild their lives. In remembering their suffering, they also came to remember how God was always with them. It was then that their healing truly began.
The Bible is realistic about suffering. Christian hope does not deny that people can suffer but it tells us that God is with us in our suffering. Because Christ suffered and died for us we know that God is not unaware of our suffering but because he overcame even death, our hope is already a reality because God’s love is always with us. Romans 8:38 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As a people of Christian hope, may we reach out with love to those who grieve that we may bring comfort and healing.
Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church