When Loss Becomes Gain1
I still remember coming from the hospital to recover after having a ruptured ectopic pregnancy with our second child. Mike had gotten Jaxson down for a nap. I poured coffee into the Blessed mud pie mug a close friend had bought me about a month or two before and grabbed my Bible and journal. It was one of the first moments I had to take it all in. As I held that cup I remember really wrestling with its message to me.
Blessed? Is this blessed? In that moment I felt my blessing had been taken from me. I felt many things in that moment but blessed was not one of them. One loss held with it the weight of many other losses of my hopes and dreams for our family. That morning God led me to Isaiah 55 and reminded me that not understanding His ways and not having my way did not mean that I was not blessed. He was blessing me, it was just not in the way I would have chosen for myself. Isaiah 55:13 became a solid rock of comfort for us to stand upon. In fact it has been written on a big chalkboard in our house since that day.
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:13)
God meets us where we are and provides for us the comfort and strength we need. On that day where I was tempted to compare my circumstances to all of the pregnant women around me having healthy pregnancies and see myself as punished by God or less loved by Him God spoke truth into those lies. He was teaching me a lesson I have continued to learn throughout the past two years. Our seasons of suffering are not indicative of God punishing us. As Pastor Mike often reminds me, “our suffering is not punitive but formative.” God gave Christ our punishment on the cross and than gave us the victory of the cross and the resurrection. God is a loving and good Father who withheld His wrath from us and laid it upon His Son to demonstrate His love for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God was showing me then, and is still showing me today, that there are blessings in loss. God made it clear to me that the trauma of our ectopic pregnancy and the grief that ensued were making a name for Him. He has continued to teach me that He will use the sufferings we face in this life for His glory and will not waste our seasons of sorrow.
One prayer I have often prayed during this time of waiting is “Jesus, help me to stop fixing my eyes on my losses and start fixing my eyes on the contentment I have gained in you because of the losses I have experienced.” Contentment comes from the Greek word “autarkes” which means “content in the sense of being satisfied because of living in God’s content; fullness” (Strong’s Concordance). Our contentment does not come from forcing ourselves to feel happy when we are grieving. Our contentment is not being delayed until we finally receive our desires and wants. Our contentment does not rely on us. Our contentment relies on Christ. Our satisfaction, our “it is well with my soul,” our ability to count it ALL joy when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2) comes from Christ. When I am grieving I can still be content in Christ, indeed in Christ I can say even in my sufferings, I am blessed. My losses do not change any blessing I have been given eternally from Christ. Jesus has taken my punishment, forgiven my sin, cancelled the record of debt that stood against me (Col. 2:14), nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14), destroyed death, gifted me grace, given me eternity with Him, given me His Word to equip and strengthen me in every loss, given me His Spirit of Truth to be my helper forever (John 14:16) and every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), oh and let’s not forget “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). There is only one thing I can never lose in heaven and on earth and that is Jesus Christ. In Christ, we can proclaim with the Apostle Paul, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Philippians 3:7-8). For with Christ there is contentment with great gain even in loss.
Dear Jesus, comfort those in need of comfort. Encourage those who need encouragement by your Word of Truth. Heal the broken-hearted, remind them of your nearness to them when they feel crushed in spirit. Strengthen those walking through loss and various trials. By the help of your Holy Spirit give them joy in their trials. Help them to fix their eyes on you, the author and perfecter of their faith, who for the joy sent before Him endured the cross. Help them endure while knowing there are blessings you have for them in their seasons of waiting and grieving. Increase their faith, sustain their hope, grant them contentment in their circumstances all in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.