Perhaps it’s fitting that during what many refer to as Holy Week, that I have been in a more somber mood the past few days. It actually started two weeks ago when I learned that a former student was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. Then another former student announced the passing of her father. And yesterday, I learned two friends, who had moved to the other side of the country, had gotten divorced, as well as a former student who had attended a few of our campus ministry meetings years ago had died of complications from a stroke. All of this with the current pandemic as a backdrop.
The reality is, no matter who we are, this life contains much loss the longer we live it. Right now, we are globally experiencing the loss of freedom of movement, routine, jobs, our sense of security, and, perhaps, even loved ones. Loss always causes shock and grief at some level.
As I wrote last week, the Twelve were alarmed by Jesus talking about his imminent arrest and death as he was making plans to lead them back to Jerusalem. Why? Because his death would mean their loss. When they scattered after his arrest, they were afraid because they had lost their leader, teacher, and hope for their lives. When Jesus was on his knees in the Garden of Gethsemane, I believe he feared the loss of holiness that would come with taking on the sin of the world. And when Jesus breathed his last, the disciples’ loss seemed complete. They huddled together in fear behind locked doors.
As I think about their sense of loss and ours, I am reminded of what David wrote: “…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) In the midst of loss, there is always hope for those of us who trust God. It may be far from apparent, as was the case for the disciples, but it’s nearer than we think.
Loss entered our world on the heels of rebellion against God. When Adam and Eve chose not to obey him, they lost their innocence before God and their intimacy with him, as did all who were born after them. And they lost an open-ended life. Suddenly, their days, our days, on earth became fixed. Death had entered the story and it has never left. It is the constant of human existence.
Yet, ever since that fateful day in the garden of Eden, there have been glimpses of hope in the midst of the losses. Hope on an ark in the midst of a flood; hope in the midst of betrayal; hope in the midst of slavery; hope in the midst of exile; and hope in the midst of the Crucifixion. There once was weeping, but it was followed by rejoicing.
Loss is a part of this life, but our experience of loss will not last forever. As John records in Revelation 21:3-5:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
As you are experiencing this pandemic, you may be feeling a particular sense of loss. It is a reminder that things are not the way they were created to be. But we need not be consumed by the loss. Rather, we can embrace the hope of something far better coming ever closer.
© Jim Musser 2020 All Scripture references from the New International Version 2011.