If You Bring It To God
On October 11 in my daily devotional,* there is a poem about evaluating our lives. It reads,
Measure your life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth.
For love’s strength is found in love’s sacrifice,
And he who suffers most has most to give.
Wow, this is so deep when we take a moment to measure our losses compared to our gains. Answering these questions, let’s think about where we’ve grown the most emotionally and spiritually.
- Which taught us the greatest lessons?
- What produced the most intense closeness with God?
- Which built our level of faith to trust God during a future loss?
- Did loss or gain increase our compassion for others?
Gain Is Short-Lived
Financial or material gains give joy only for a brief moment. I think about my house. God allows me to live in the most lovely cottage-style home. It’s a one-bedroom packed with everything we need to live comfortably. I love it, but I could seriously move tomorrow and be okay because material possessions don’t give me the greatest joy. The happiness of a new home is short-lived as the new wears off. The daily grind of keeping it maintained and clean scrubs off some of that initial glee. We’re left with an emptiness that only something new can fill up for another brief moment. That’s why we buy so many things. We see something we want…we get it…then we see something else. It’s a veracious hunger that can never be satisfied.
Then I think about my health. Being healthy is a huge gain. I cherish every day that I can walk, talk, and function without sickness or pain, but health can be a very fleeting thing. One day you’re fine and the next day you could receive a devastating diagnosis. At the age of 60 at the time of this writing, I’m on the downward slide toward the end of this earthly life. Health issues are inevitable in some form or fashion as our bodies wear out. If the measure of life is contingent on good health, we could be in big trouble, but never fear, that moves us into the loss category.
Loss Can Produce Amazing Things
I’ve suffered some pretty hard losses in life. When dealt with on my own, I was only left with bitterness, anger, and unanswered questions of why it happened. Once I started taking my heartache and loss to my loving Heavenly Father, He did what only He can do. He turned the loss into an amazing thing.
The Loss Of Health
Loss of health taught me the power of our Creator God. Due to an arm injury, I prayed and clung to God’s promise of divine health. I had no health insurance and no money to pay for doctors. Over several months, I stretched my faith for healing and the pain slowly decreased and full range of motion was completely restored. Whether it was a prayer answered or a miraculous body created by Him to heal itself, my faith in God grew substantially. Several years later, I developed gallbladder issues and because of the previous healing of my arm, I chose to trust in God to heal rather than have surgery. I still have my gallbladder and even bigger faith.
The Loss of A Marriage
During marriage troubles and subsequent divorce, I grew so close to the Lord that I couldn’t take a breath without feeling His love wrapped around me. Because I spent time with Him every morning and before I went to sleep, His peace filled my heart throughout the day. He spoke comfort and wisdom through scripture, devotionals, and books. Even though it was a season of great sadness and sorrow, I look back on that time as one of the greatest moments in my life. It was like God left heaven to come stay with me for a while; His presence was so real. Our relationship became amazingly close as I climbed up in his lap and trusted Him with every aspect of my life.
In the midst of financial difficulty, I learned how faithful God is to provide our needs. Still to this day, I don’t know how all of my bills got paid. Checks came in the mail, people handed me money that I knew didn’t have it to give. I would lay out my bills on the table and ask God how to pay them. He provided steady work at just the right time and extra work when it was needed. I did the possible and God did the impossible. My level of financial faith grew tremendously.
God’s Word literally came alive in a personal way as I applied scriptures like:
I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22).
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…(Psalm 30:11).
There is another kind of loss that if chosen brings great growth in our emotions and spirits. We can choose to lose part of our day by meeting a friend who needs a listening ear. We can choose to sacrifice that new pair of shoes in order to help someone in need. There are millions of ways to intentionally choose to lose something we value in order to be a blessing to those around us. There is creative work in being a cheerful giver that brings cheer into our lives. God blesses us to be a blessing.
Suffering Produces Compassion
During times of loss, we generally seek out people who have been through the same thing…because who knows better than them what we are going through. If we suffer with cancer, we draw strength from those who have survived their own. At the time of my divorce, I read a book by another divorced Christian woman.** Her story of restoration and emotional healing helped give me the courage to walk through the trial with confidence. Now I have a much higher level of compassion for people who are going through what I’ve been through. In 1 Corinthians 1:3-4, it says:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
God wants to use our loss to increase our compassion so that we can encourage and strengthen others.
Bringing It To God
Loss will only damage our minds and spirits unless we lay it down at God’s feet. Only then can God transform loss and turn it into amazing things. If you are dealing with loss that wasn’t of your choosing, I highly recommend spending time with your Heavenly Father who cares for you greatly! Only He can take what the devil and others meant for harm and turn it for your good. I can’t explain why or how it happens, it just does!
If you intentionally choose the loss of your time, finances, or anything else sacrificial and unselfish, God won’t only give you more to give, but you’ll find lingering joy in the giving.
I’ve learned more lessons, grown deeper in love with God, and developed greater faith and compassion as a result of life’s bruises. My life is immeasurably richer and filled with amazing things since I’ve allowed God to use my suffering to help others. He has blessed me with more gains than I deserve and I’m very grateful, but I wouldn’t trade the losses for all the tea in China!
Until next time,
* Cowman, Charles E., and James Reimann. “October 11.” Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, Zondervan, 2013, pp. 384–384.
** Thomas, Angela. A Beautiful Offering: Returning God’s Love With Your Life. Thomas Nelson Inc., 2006.