Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Loss

It would seem that church goers, evangelical Christians, whatever-you-call-them-in-your-neck-of-the-woods, look down on depression and loss. They seem above it all. There is little or no room for despair. But as I read the Bible, it's there. It there among people who should "know better," among the good guys, so perhaps our platitudes and judgment should be applied to those who struggle with the idea of depression and despair being unbiblical.



Here's the thing. We say and think and rest on the fact that we are not to grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). And I honestly believe that if Christ is our hope, we will not give in to despair for as long as others. That those who belong to Christ will receive comfort, peace, and a settledness even in affliction. But in reading the book of Luke, in contemplating Christ's death and resurrection, we must agree and see the true despair and loss. The disciples lost Christ. They lost the source of hope. They experienced true despair. We could counsel and encourage them till the cows came home, remind them of all Jesus had said, but the reality of the situation is that Jesus. Was. Gone. They had nothing. They were hopeless. And the fact is, what they experienced and the way they interpreted the situation was real. It was, in fact, the most hopeless, despairing time of all eternity--and they felt it. They knew it. They were immune to hope because they felt the weight of reality, loss, emptiness. It had a grip on the pit of their stomach--and it was justified.

What do you do when your foundation, your security, your reason for living is gone? We may use the term jokingly, but loss of hope is the worst. It's below bottom. There's no way out. The disciples had lost everything that mattered. Jesus really died. Gone. A lifeless body in a tomb. And in His last moments, they had deserted and betrayed Him. He would never know how much they missed Him. They blew it--and He died alone. What guilt! What shame! What fear, desperation and despair.

Is it any wonder that His resurrection was received with skepticism and trepidation? There were some who had lost loved ones and received them back. They may have understood a measure of the disciple's joy, but oh, what an energy-sapping turn of events to receive, not just Jesus, but the hope of all He'd promised. Their weeping, gloom, wracking grief had been for naught. Not only was Jesus here, "in the flesh," there was now multiplied hope, joy, and peace that everything else He said would come to pass. "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (1 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV).

To their amazement, forty days later, He left. Again. But as always, He left with a promise. This time they believed Him. They had proof and confidence that in Jesus Christ, a promise made is a promise fulfilled. This goodbye was not accompanied by guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear, and betrayal but hope. Here is a description of Jesus leaving them a second time:

While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God. (Luke 24:51-53)

To those who've lost the best, who have lost your foundation, your joy, your reason for living: you are not alone. You feel very alone. You are in a dark, desperate place. Here is a biblical example of those who know and understand what it is to grieve without hope. To grieve ugly. To grieve until your gut hurts and your tears run dry. God gave us a record of men who traveled beyond the rim of despair.

Beautifully, that is not the end of the story. God intervened. He brought the only hope that matters. When Jesus breaks into your gloom and despair, you will live again. You will have peace and confidence. This world is a broken, sinful, wicked, dark place. You are not wrong. But God has entered. He promised to be with us, to give us the "light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). Cry out to Him. Don't stop. Turn to Him. Let loose the bindings that keep grief close, tight, and protected. Let Jesus see the pain. Invite Him to sit with you in the darkness. Pour out your heart. He is okay with your guilt. He isn't surprised by who you are or how you've responded. But He is waiting for your call.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:6-18)

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