Moments of Personal Loss
Have you ever experienced a personal loss? How did you cope? Did you naturally go through the 7 stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance? Are you currently in any of these stages? How do you think that you use loss as an opportunity to draw closer to God?
Let's explore this topic together in today's devotional:
I was working with a client on a very tough situation that dealt with a loss. The client began to cry and then said, “I know you are not supposed to cry in business, but…” Most people believe that “grown men don’t cry” – and especially not in business. As a result of this myth, both men and women entrepreneurs work very hard not to show their emotions, and especially not their tears, as it is viewed as a sign of weakness.
In the book of John, chapter 11, Lazarus, the brother of Mary who had anointed Jesus’ feet with the oil from the alabaster box, was sick. Mary and her sister Martha sent for Jesus because they knew for certain that the Master could help their brother. Jesus really cared for Lazarus. When Jesus arrived, not only was Lazarus already dead, but he had been in a tomb for four days. The sisters, in anguish, blamed Jesus for their brother’s death saying “Lord, if you had been here our brother would not have died.” – John 11:21, 32 (NKJV). Jesus comforts Mary and Martha by reassuring them that their brother will live again. Jesus asks to be taken to Lazarus’ tomb. As He approached the tomb and sees His friend lifeless, He begins to weep. Why did the Master of the universe, the Creator of all things, and the One who is able to raise the dead weep? Did He weep out of despair and hopelessness? Did He weep because Lazarus is gone forever? Did He weep because there is nothing He can do about the situation? Jesus, in the midst of crises, as everyone was looking to Him to resolve the problem, showed a sign of weakness.
“Jesus wept.” How did that comfort those who were looking to Him for help? I’m sure as people saw Jesus weeping, they began to think, “Oh man, we are doomed. If He cannot help us then who can?”
Moments of personal loss are those times when we lose someone or something dear to us. It could be a loved one who passes away, a key employee or partner that must move on, a business that is facing bankruptcy, or a major contract/project that seems to have taken the wrong turn. During these moments there is a sense of despair, deep hurt, and we don’t know what to do. We really loved that person; we poured our hearts into that business or project. What will we do now?
These are defining moments for the entrepreneur or the leader. These are moments that shape your character and how you handle them determines who you are and where you place your trust. How should you handle loss? Let’s review how Jesus handled His loss so we can learn from Him how we can handle ours.
- Be assured that God will work it together for your good (John 11:14-15, Romans 8:28). No matter how bad the loss seems, God is at work. He has permitted it because either He is trying to protect you from something or make way for something even greater. As for a dying loved one, He is trying to relieve them from their pain and usher them into heaven. Jesus recognized that Lazarus’ death was an opportunity for a miracle that would cause people to see who God was and lead them to eternal life. It was also an opportunity to strengthen the faith of His disciples and followers.
- Have faith that this is not the end (John 11:23-26). A movie I saw once had a memorable line that I love: “Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not all right, it is not the end.” You see, God is working and when something seems like ‘loss,’ it means God is about to do something spectacular and powerful. But you must believe. Jesus was assured that Lazarus would rise again – not just because of His assurance in the resurrection but because He IS the resurrection and the life.
- It is ok to cry (John 11:35, 38). Crying is not a sign of weakness or a sign of defeat. It is not a ‘woman-thing’ or something reserved only for funerals. Crying is a release of emotion that frees you up to think clearly and trust more faithfully. Crying shows that you care and that you’re free. Those who hold back their tears build up self-sufficiency and pride. Those who cry release the hurt and disappointment, make room for faith and trust. Yes, you can cry as long as you are not crying out of hopelessness but rather out of a sincere hurt and pain. After you’ve cried, know that God is able. Jesus wept for Lazarus because He cared, and He was touched by the pain of those who cared for Lazarus. He also cried because Lazarus’ death was a result of the sin of man and its consequences. He was grieving for man’s sin and the consequences of it just as He grieved over Jerusalem.
- Pray and make way for God to perform His miracle (John 11:32-44). After you have trusted, believed and cried, make way for God and the Holy Spirit to perform His miracle. Every loss is an opportunity for God to show up and demonstrate His power in your life. It is time for something great. Whatever your need, He will manifest it if you believe. Jesus asked them to move Lazarus’ stone, which was symbolic of faithlessness. This made way for faith and hope. Then Jesus called on His father and Lazarus was raised from the dead (as He knew He would be) and God was glorified.
Of course, God is not always going to bring back to you everything you lose or restore every loss you experience, but He will always comfort you and bring you into an even greater place. He will always work it together for your good as long as you are working according to His purpose. Some losses are opportunities for God to draw you closer to Himself because “that thing” or “that person” was standing between you and God.
My prayer for you today is that God will give you the grace to manage through your loss and give you the assurance that everything will be all right in the end. And, if it is not all right, it is not yet the end.
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