“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 ESV
To some degree, everyone is struggling with a loss during this pandemic. Some people have lost the ability to gather with friends and family, or at church, or with co-workers. Many people have lost a loved one and have not been able to grieve for their loss. Over 30 million people in the US have lost their employment. Many senior citizens have been stuck at home or in a facility and unable to see loved ones because of the pandemic.
As we glean through the word of God, we find helpful strategies for coping with losses. A believer should not allow a loss to throw him or her into despair. For the word of God reminds us that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19). Based on my reading of the scriptures, I have developed 5 keys for coping with losses.
1. Accept the Loss. In 2 Samuel 12:16-23, we read about the death of David’s son with Bathsheba. David wept, fasted, and prayed while the child was sick. “But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead.” When the servants confirmed that the child was indeed dead, David arose from the earth, washed himself, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. Then he went into the house of the Lord to worship. Because David accepted his loss, he was able to manage his bereavement more effectively.
When we lose someone or something dear to us, we have to accept that loss so we can begin the grieving process. Delayed grief can lead to an emotional trauma that can prevent us from moving on with life with the joy of the Lord. Accepting the loss is not easy, but it is necessary for recovery.
2. Give yourself time to heal. There is no expiration date on grieving. A person should take as long as needed to heal from a loss. That does not mean you do not move on. The healing process may be different for different people. For some, that healing may require emotional therapy. Others may lean more on their faith in God. David went to the house of God to worship. Six years later, I am still healing from the loss of my mother. Every time I pray, I think of her because of her passion for prayer. The important thing is for you to give yourself time to feel hopeful again because faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
3. Lean on God. In Psalm 55:16-17, David says, “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” The worst thing believers can do is to try to cope with their loss without God. In times of affliction and loss, we have to lean on God. The Lord is our comforter and the source of our strength. He is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). When Jesus went back to Bethany to visit Marie and Martha, the sisters told him that if he had been there, their brother would not have died. Then they told Jesus that even now, they believed, he could raise him from the dead. And he did!
As Marie and Martha leaned on Jesus while grieving their brother, we can lean on God when we lose a job, a loved one, a position, a marriage, or our peace of mind. Leaning on God means trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not unto our understanding. We lean on God by taking our burden to him in prayer and look for him to minister to our brokenness through his word and different messengers.
4. Dare to laugh again. It is okay to laugh while grieving a loss. Now and then, I find myself laughing when I think of some things that my mother used to say or do. A while back, my older sister called me by my pet name that only my mother used to call me. I laughed heartily when she used that name. Laughter is very good medicine for the wounded soul. When joy is seemingly absent, find your reason to laugh. When memories of your loss flood your mind, dare to laugh again.
Coping with our losses is about survival. Life is a gift from God. The way we live it is our gift back to God. No matter our losses, life is worth living with as much joyfulness as possible. We may not be able to prevent losses, but we can certainly determine how we cope with those losses.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for the tools you’ve provided for us to cope with our losses. May we learn to lean on you all the more in times of losses.