Overcoming Losses

Nobody likes to entertain the idea of impermanence. We live every day with the assumption that tomorrow will be the same. We make plans for the future with the thought that we will have our health, and the same old job, family, and friends. James says otherwise. “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15). Only God is permanent; everything else is changing. We are time-oriented people by nature, who are in the process of learning to see life from God’s eternal perspective.

Three times Jesus told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem and there He would be betrayed and crucified. The first time (Mark 8:31), they essentially denied Jesus and Peter even rebuked Him. The second time (Mark 9:32), they didn’t understand and were afraid to talk about it. On this third occasion (Mark 10:32-34), the disciples were astonished. Their life as usual was soon to be over. We all go through a very predictable reaction when an established lifestyle is abruptly ended by a crisis. Usually the crisis is defined by a significant loss that can be real, threatened or imagined.

Our first response is denial and that can last for three minutes or thirty years. The initial reaction is a sense of disbelief, “No, not me!” Then we get angry and wonder, “How can this happen to me?” The anger often turns to bargaining. “Maybe I can alter what happened?” Finally, we feel depressed when the consequences if the loss cannot be reversed. Reaction to losses is the primary cause for depression. No crisis can destroy us, but they do reveal who we are.

Learning to overcome losses is a critical part of our growth process. Everything we now have, someday we shall lose, except for our relationship with God. The critical questions are: Are we going to choose the path of resignation and allow the loss to negatively affect us for the rest of our lives, or are we going to accept what we cannot change and grow through the crisis? A wise person once said, A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.

Dr. Neil

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