Remember the character from Charlie Brown named Lucy? She would ever get disgusted with Charlie and shout “Good Grief, Charlie Brown!” I loved that cartoon as a child. Oh let’s be honest: I love it as an adult too. Christmas just ain’t Christmas without “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown”. You know the one with the scene where Linus goes on stage and all the lights go out and except for the spotlight on him as he stands there and simply recalls Luke 2 and the beautiful story of how Jesus was born. Yeah, I get emotional just thinking about it.
Anyway, back to Lucy. Everytime I hear her say those words “Good grief”, my mind goes to a totally different place than the disdain that Lucy is expressing toward Charlie Brown for whatever he has or hasn’t done. I always think about loss and how though painful it CAN be good. Loss. Thats not a word that is celebrated in western Christian culture. Heck. ANY Christian culture these days. In the generation of pulpit and parking lot prophets who promise that every new year is the year of “increase” and the mantra that God wants us all to be wealthy, healthy and whole, loss seems to have no place in the equation.
I have experiences SIGNIFICANT loss the last 13 years, repeatedly. I wont bore you with my list. But there are a couple of things I have learned about loss that are invaluable:
- There is no gain without loss. Ask ANYONE who has ever started a business with any rate of success. They will tell you that first of all you have to SPEND money to make money. Its called “overhead”. Before a profit can ever be made, there HAS to be a loss. “Supply and demand” begins with SUPPLY first. Eventually and hopefully the demand exceeds the supply and yields profit. This same principle applies to us in loss. Every single loss I have experienced, if I let it, can yield a personal/spiritual profit. The demand comes from Heaven but will work for me and not against me if I let it.
- It is natural to grieve a loss. Grief, while painful, is absolutely necessary. When I lost my mother suddenly without warning in 2003, it took me until 2008 to actually cry over her death. I hadn’t grieved at all. I thought I had to be strong for my family. I had to help my Dad find himself again. I had to be a big brother. I had to communicate with extended family and try to be the glue that held everyone together. Grief was weakness as far as I was concerned. But that isn’t true. Grief is a GOOD thing. Without it we are involuntarily ushered into a place of denial and stagnation relationally, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. Jesus himself, having all power and authority in human form, knowing the end from the beginning, grieved the loss of his best friend Lazarus in one of the most famous verses in all of the bible “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). But his weeping was not because things couldn’t change or even that he didn’t have the ability to bring his friend back to life. But because of the pain of the moment that was so real. Jesus allowed himself to be human. Even the God-Man gave himself a minute to grieve. And it was GOOD because everything he did was good.
Many don’t know this but 2015 has been one of the HARDEST years of my life. I’ve lost A LOT. Relationally, financially, personally and emotionally I am grieving some of those things. But I am hopeful of the gain that will come from it in all those areas too. I want to simply encourage anyone who finds themselves in loss, to go ahead… grieve. Its ok. Scream, cry, shout, let it all out. But remain hopeful that THINGS CAN CHANGE because there isn’t a loss that cant be restored.