Is Loss a Four-Letter Word? Becky Barnhart

Everyone deals with and experiences loss. No one escapes its hurts, because loss doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, gender, culture, religion, or anything else. It doesn’t care how much money we have or don’t have, what our marital status is or isn’t, or whether we’re a size 2 or 22.

It’s real and it happens to all of us.

It’s easy to think of loss only in terms of a physical death. That’s a loss we mostly understand. But loss encompasses more than that. It can be a divorce, an estranged relationship, a job change, moving, an assault, or house burglary. It can take the form of a non-life threatening health diagnosis.

Loss can be a four-letter word that’s better not uttered or acknowledged—unless it has to do with our weight! (I would embrace that kind of loss, but I’ll save that struggle for another blog!)

Sometimes our losses are so personal that we’re either ashamed or afraid (or both) to acknowledge the loss. And why is this, since we ALL experience them? Why are we, as daughters and sons of the King of Kings, so hesitant to bear and share our losses with each other? Why do we often carry that burden alone and not let anyone in, even God? Scripture reminds us:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” —Psalm 68:19

The older we get, our losses may increase, and even become layered and compounded, which can be overwhelming. A few years ago, I was in a senior communications role for a global mission organization, living abroad and traveling extensively. I loved my work, but after a few years in the role, I experienced burnout. I made the decision to move back to the U.S. to recover, regroup and be refreshed in order to continue my long-term career in missions. I also felt the pull to be closer to my elderly mother after years of living away. About one week before I was scheduled to return to the U.S., my mother fell, hit her head, and unexpectedly died from a brain trauma before I could get back. After a year in the States, continuing my work for the mission organization, the Lord made it clear that my mission career was coming to a close.

Loss after loss after loss.

I wish I could say that I bounced back quickly. I didn’t. It continues to be a process of healing, but God has been faithful with each step. As Moses reminded Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” I cling to this verse because never means never. Amen!

The Lord also provided good friends that allowed me to talk, cry, talk some more, and cry even more. They prayed with me and for me. They shared Scripture verses. They made me laugh and bought me coffee and dark chocolate (these are the keeper friends!). They texted, called, emailed, WhatsApped, and some even sent snail mail! (Think about that!) They lived out Galatians 6:2 of carrying each other’s burdens.

I was also comforted in knowing that God himself, my Heavenly Father, understood loss deeper than I did. God sent His son to die a painful, gruesome death on the cross…for me and you. God’s loss meant that I gained. While my losses are valid and real—and so are yours—God knows and understands and wants to be our Healer and Comfort.

What can we do to help ourselves and each other through a loss? If we are Jesus followers, we must immediately take the loss to the Lord, who knows and understands! Psalm 139:16 reminds us that “…all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” God is not surprised, nor unprepared to help us in our loss. Again, hugely comforting!

Acknowledge the loss, not only for what it is, but for how it’s impacted your life. Allow a friend to walk with you through this, or be the friend that’s willing to bring coffee and dark chocolate and listen, cry, and pray.

We all will confront that four-letter word called loss. The challenge is to not wallow in it, but to bring God into the loss and embrace His grace and love as you walk through it with Him.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.”Psalm 55:22