Getting Through the Firsts
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Loss is hard and is no respecter of persons. Whether prince or pauper, loss is a part of life and we all must face its effects and changes. Loss can encompass so many things. We can lose a cherished item, a needed job, a relationship we wish could have been fixed, and the toughest loss of all; loss of life. Losing something or someone who has been a joy in our life takes time to process and we all deal with loss on varying levels. One thing common to all however, is getting through the firsts. The first holiday (and that includes all of them), the first season (winter, spring, summer and fall); really the first everything that is associated with what we once knew that is no more. As God’s creation, we are wired to be in community; to feel, express and share one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2). When we hurt, everything intensifies and sometimes it can feel like we will always be broken. The good news is that our God is a compassionate Father who walks beside us, daily bearing our burdens (Psalm 68:19). By His design, He also gives us each other because simply put, He knew we’d need a hug. Because of our sinful state, there is a chasm between God’s physical presence and our human condition. Still, our sovereign God provided a way to minister to each of us by sending His Holy Spirit as the Comforter. (John 16:7). It has been said that each of us, at any given time, are either walking into a struggle, currently living through one, or just coming out of one. Loss is no different. It carries with it the same ebb and flow, oftentimes without reason, logic or human comprehension. When someone you know is experiencing loss, you have a God-opportunity to bring hope and comfort by choosing to bless others with God’s firsts of comfort:
1) Mercy: “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.” (Jude 1:22). In times of loss the faith of any Christian becomes stretched and fire tested. During those times our brothers and sisters in the faith need our mercy and strength to lean on. 2) Compassion: “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (1 Peter 3:8). Never confuse being tenderhearted with weakness. When someone is in pain, a tender heart can be the lifeline between hopelessness and healing. Hurting people need to feel genuine love, even when it means we ourselves must step outside of our own comfort zones for the sake of another. 3) Presence: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). God’s presence never leaves us, but in times of loss we forget this. We feel isolated and alone, even if that isolation is through our own doing as we try to process and heal. When someone is hurting, your acts of love and kindness help the grieving person become more aware of the presence of God. Loss is hard on the heart and not everyone will deal with it in the same manner; and that is okay. Resist the temptation to give unsolicited advice, share you own stories of loss or hand out a pamphlet with the five stages of grief. You don’t have to have the answers, because most likely you don’t. You don’t have to fix the broken; this is God’s job. As a ministering disciple of Christ, you simply need to come alongside the hurting, allow the Spirit of the Comforter to flow through you, silently reminding those in sorrow of the greatest first they will ever know; the love of Christ. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). We will not escape loss in this life, but isn’t it a comfort to know that there is one thing you will never lose; and that is the love of Christ.
Heavenly Father, in this fallen, broken world of loss and heartache, we are so thankful that there is one constant, one thing that never changes; Your love for us. Lord Jesus, in Your power, presence and provision, we rest, Amen.”