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March 10, 2015

Turning Loss Into Gain

“God whispers in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis 

One of the most difficult lessons in life is how to accept loss. It’s an ongoing process since our lives constantly change, and we’re forced to confront the harsh realities of a world that’s far from perfect. Whether you are single or married, a teacher or a student, a business executive or a stay-at-home mom, you have most likely faced some moment when your world was shaken to its foundation. The marriage that seemed unbreakable. The parent who exercised every day. The business that succeeded beyond your wildest dreams. Suddenly, a divorce, a heart attack, a bankruptcy created seismic waves that resulted in enormous collateral damage. The Psalmist asked, “When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?” (Psalm 11:3 NCV)

During these times, our faith can be shaken to the core. On one hand, such trials and painful losses force us to depend on God – for comfort, for peace, for His love and mercy. But, on the other hand, we may become angry and resistant to Him because we can’t imagine why He would allow such a tragedy, loss, or catastrophe in the first place. It’s hard to fathom that our freedom of choice comes with one of the steepest price tags imaginable: the sorrow and anguish of an imperfect world. But, God never abandons us. He suffers right along with us and knows, more than anyone what it means to lose a child, to be rejected by His people, to be betrayed by a friend. In fact, look at what Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).  Jesus said problems are a natural part of life, but they don’t have to level us.

How can our lives withstand the impact of such news and provide a lasting foundation? The only way to do this is to intentionally strengthen our foundation each day, turning to the Master Builder for instruction and guidance in building our lives.

Jesus uses a common-sense truth to illustrate our need for a supernatural foundation that can withstand any disaster or tragedy we encounter: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  (Matthew 7:24-25).

According to Jesus, the secret is not how much of the Bible you know; it’s how much you live out His truth on a daily basis. How genuine is your faith? Scripture reveals the secret of putting God’s Word into practice and establishing an indestructible foundation:

First, you need a solid center in your life. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus reveals this solid center in the Great Commandment. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart…’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” It is so easy in marriage to look to your spouse to be the source of your happiness, to meet your deepest needs for fulfillment and purpose and meaning. But, no human is equipped to sustain someone else at that level. When you look to your mate to meet needs only God can fulfill, you put too much pressure on that person and on the relationship. The good news is that it’s never too late to ask God to be the center of your life and to build upon His truth as your sure foundation. Proverbs 3:6 says,“In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Another primary practice for securing your foundation is having a community that cares, a human support system. You need a team of people around you who love you for who you are – and not for what you do. You need some friends in your life that will step in when everyone else walks out. How do you know who your friends are? When you go through a tough time, they are right there with you.

God designed a way to meet this need we all have for community: the church. You need a support system because no one can make it in life all alone. “Two are better than one…. If one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10, 12) God designed us to live in community, gladly offering help when others need it and gracefully accepting help when we are in need.

As long as you have a pulse, you will have problems. But I can tell you this:  Jesus Christ will walk through every problem with you, and He will never let you down. Look what David said in Psalm 94: “If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, ‘I’m slipping, I’m falling,’ Your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, You calmed me down and cheered me up.” (verses 17-19, MSG).  

God often responds to us with His presence instead of His presents. He says, I’m not going to deliver you right out of this. There’s no magic button or instant solution. Here’s My plan: I’m going to hold you, and I’m going to walk you through to solid ground. I’m here with you when your world falls apart and when all is well. 

I don’t know what challenges you are facing in your life right now, but God does.  He understands how you feel. He cries with you in your heartache, and He has the power to turn your life around.

Personal Challenge:

  1. Describe your most recent trial. In what ways has it challenged your faith and relationship with God? Are you weaker or stronger as a result?
  2.  In what ways are you building community? Not just friendly acquaintances but someone you could rely on in a crisis or heartache. Who may need your help or encouragement today?