TRANSFORMATION or tribulation. Every moment of our lives is a choice and a consequence for one or the other.
Losses are disguised as gains to be had. They’re vital vehicles for transformation, though they seem marked at every point, ‘Tribulation’. Indeed, we never seem ready for transformation until we’ve suffered something we cannot reconcile. And even as we embark one footstep into the perilous way of grief, tribulation seems the only way to run.
But it’s not the only the way! Tribulation usually heralds transformation.
Praising God amid loss seems unthinkable, but such a concept is not estranged to biblical content. Indeed, it is bizarrely familiar. “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds,” the Bible says in James. I’m not cherry-picking verses here, the Bible is full of verses about remaining faithful in loss, because the Bible acknowledges the reality that loss is not all there is.
It is possible to see beyond the pain of loss in the mode of grief itself. Though it is tormenting, grief itself holds us aloft and away from our ego. Comfort has been thwarted at every level and finally God has our attention, and we have His.
Many, many people despise these words because they cannot entertain a concept of God who doesn’t lavish them. It would be truer to say God lavishes us with more (more power, more truth, more capacity, more grace, more wisdom, and certainly more love) when we lavish Him with our presence, which is easiest to do when we have no god to elevate before Him. And, in loss, finally there’s no barrier we set up to God.
So faithfulness is more important than the experience of comfort; diligence more important than arriving; progress more important than perfection; the means more important than the end. Focus on the means, and the end takes care of itself.
Losses are gains in disguise. How else do we explain the phenomenon of the possibility of growth through grief?
If we’re ever annoyed about messages like this one, we invest precious energies into bitterness rather than redeploy them in betterness.
The choice is always simple, and the effect is profound: Go with God in grief and He will make purpose of your pain.
Steve Wickham is a Pastor and writer who holds degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counseling.