Written by Karen Morton
We are a people of loss.
Sometimes we get glimpses of this: a promotion not given, a business partnership not received, difficulty buying a house. But we can quickly move on— because the next week we’re reminded that our investments are still doing well, or there’s that new restaurant to check out and that new gadget (shirt) will be delivered tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring more hope.
Of course there are moments of greater loss. A miscarriage, a terminal diagnosis of cancer, the loss of a child, childhood abuse that leaves us scarred well into adulthood, a career that can never seem to take off. As Christians, we all too often don’t dare explore how this affects our faith- because we’re afraid it might take it all down. If we’re honest, each sorrow or loss places a little dent in the chain of our faith, keeping it from running smoothly, every revolution providing a little jolt, a reminder that not all is well in our soul.
Now we’re in this place of pervasive loss.
And a time of loss with no end in sight; there is no known tomorrow to keep us hopeful. Everyone has lost something. I look back at my life just a month ago and if I spend too much thinking I start to weep over what is no longer. An office where I could see clients in person, girls in schools that we loved, family outings, time with friends, dates, and my husband’s sabbatical. All of these things that once provided joy now ceased. And in their place stress, sadness, grieving.
One more thing to complicate matters- guilt over tears because we don’t have it that bad. There are people who are far worse off right now: families who have lost loved ones, or have lost their livelihoods; families for whom this pandemic will have its effect on their lives for years to come. In my field, almost everyone I work with says “yea, but, I don’t have it that bad,” or “but they have it so much worse.” It’s their way of naming a reality, (sure, sometimes that is true) but also protecting their minds from admitting and therefore feeling pain.
There is no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis has devastated some lives; some much more than others. But here’s the deal, not one of us has escaped loss during this crisis. We all have suffered. Sometimes lots of it. We all have. It might be to a lesser degree, but it’s still there. Great or small. Your job; your ability to pay rent, buy groceries; maybe you’re lonely and can’t see friends; maybe you just started dating again and now suddenly dating (and your longed for hope of marriage) is off the table; maybe you’re struggling with how to homeschool multiple kids at different levels; maybe your marriage is tense because everyone is so stressed out; whatever dream you had for the fall is now in question; and online school is frustrating; the simple joys of going to the grocery store and finding what you needed has disappeared; the house you hoped to sell is now not worth what is was and you now question when to start a family.
Don’t let yourself minimize your pain and keep yourself from the good work God will do with your sorrow.
Don’t let your fear that sorrow will swallow you whole keep you from going to God with your explosion of worries and fears and anger and doubt. Here’s a start: 1) acknowledge and feel your losses, 2) wrestle with God about what He’s allowed to happen. If we don’t do these two things we risk the effect of suffering slowly creeping and starting to nibble away at our faith. Undealt with suffering is a devouring pest.
There is no easy way to do this. There’s no way to face the losses we’ve felt during this Covid crisis without feeling pain— that’s kinda the point. But as we name our losses, let’s ask ourselves this. Is God great enough to hold our pain? Is God great enough to not let the loss be the final word? Is God great enough to do as he pleases and for us to submit to His will even when it seems to cause harm? Is God great enough?
As I have been wrestling with my own losses in this season, the deepest sorrow almost taking my breath away, I pray and weep, following along with Habakkuk,
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olives fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation