“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Ps. 18:28
Recently, three close friends faced the unexpected death of a parent. I grieved with each of them as I witnessed firsthand the pain accompanying such weighty goodbyes. When I think about loss, death is often the first thing that comes to mind. It feels so acute, so final.
Yet there is another type of loss we face every day. It’s the loss of what could have been. It’s what my mom calls, “the death of a vision.” Perhaps the man you envisioned having a life with suddenly ends the relationship; perhaps the dream job that was right at your fingertips suddenly evaporates; or maybe the pregnancy test this month showed one line instead of two–again. Over and over your heart aches because God’s plan turns out to be different than what you had imagined. How do you process loss like this?
These situations are tough. When I face these kinds of heartaches I am often disillusioned. It’s easy to get stuck in a spiral of sadness and frustration. Over time, however, acceptance comes and I begin the hard work of seeking to gain a godly perspective. The Lord is kind to open my eyes and mercifully reveal the ugly lie I’m believing– I think I know better than my Heavenly Father. I think I have a better plan than the Author of Life Himself. Of course, the reality is I don’t. I am not omniscient or perfectly wise. I don’t know the future. I can’t see all the pieces of the puzzle.
What seems like a loss to me may not be a loss at all. God might be making something beautiful. If I believe that ALL things work together for good (Rom. 8:28), then I can have hope that these experiences will ultimately be for my good and the Lord’s glory.
When I was 28, I was asked to step into a nearly impossible situation. A family with four young girls, who I had known for years, had suddenly lost their mother to a battle with cancer. It was devastating for the family and all of their close friends. I was asked to come alongside these precious girls and try to create a normal day-to-day life without their dear mom.
Twelve years prior, I was a high school sophomore in West Texas and I had failed to make the JV cheerleading squad (for the second time). It felt like such a big loss. How would I spend my summer now that cheerleading camp wasn’t part of the plan? Unexpectedly (to me), the Lord opened up an opportunity for me that summer to be a nanny for a family with five children in Maryland (8 year old quadruplets and a 10 year old!). It was a fun, exhausting adventure. I had no idea at the time that God had something else for me to prepare for that summer. It was not cheerleading, but something much more important. It took me twelve years to see how my darkness would turn to light, but The Lord saw it all along. A lesson I’ll try to remember.
It’s hard to admit that we don’t know what is best for us. The Lord reminds us in the midst of loss that He alone is sovereign and omniscient; He alone is worth trusting– even when we can’t see it yet.