This semester I’m taking a class called Illness, Grief and Loss. Obviously, it is a sad class, but it is especially sad when most of the students have no hope.
Last week we had to write papers on how we define loss, what loss we have experienced, and how we cope with it. Then we had to present our papers to the class. Each story was sadder than the next. By the end of the class, students and even the professor, were in tears. Most of the presentations included stories of how each person experienced loss, but almost none of the students shared how they coped. This made me think, have they coped?
When you don’t know Jesus, you lack hope. Jesus provides you with hope and gives loss a purpose.
In chapter 11 of the book of John, there was a man named Lazarus who died. His two sisters, Mary and Martha, were devastated and weeped at Jesus’ feet. This created a chain of weeping. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled… Jesus wept.” (verses 33 and 35)
This is similar to the experience I had in my class. One person’s sadness caused another to be saddened. Unlike my class experience, this story has hope.
Jesus turned the loss into a miracle. Jesus turned death to life. Jesus brought back Lazarus from death. He not only literally saved Lazarus, but he also spiritually saved many others. Immediately following the story of Lazarus, verse 45 says, “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.”
God used loss to save people, to bring hope and a purpose.
When I refer to loss, I do not simply mean loss of lives by death. Loss can be found in many forms- divorce, friendship, moving to a new place, or change of plans. Here are some examples of the word loss found in the Bible – lose of time (Ex 21:19, loss of lives (2 Sam 18:7), uncertainty (Act 25:20), and loss of material goods (Acts 27:10).
Mary, Martha, and Jesus all felt sadness, pain, and grief, but every tear had a purpose. In our times of grief, we may only see the tears and may tend to focus on the present moment. If we look at grief through Jesus and his eternal perspective, we will see the world differently. Mary and Martha had no idea that lives would be spiritually saved that day, because they were focused on the pain, the loss of their brother. We too focus on the pain, and have no idea how God may use each of our experiences to glorify him.
Without Jesus, without hope. With Jesus, with hope.
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