No one likes to be out of control and feel vulnerable. In a moment, our lives can be changed through no action of our own. Things happen.
Most of us have personal stories of loss and suffering. They may involve a stepfather who was sexually abusive; a mom who died from breast cancer; parents who divorced; a father jailed on drug charges; a depressed mother unable to care for her children; abandonment; chronic illness; rape; or domestic violence. Loss, suffering and trauma occur daily in our fallen world-not something we want to think about.
But suffering is a universal experience. Jesus wept when His friend Lazaras died. Jesus too suffered pain that led to death. We don’t know why good people suffer, we simply know how to respond to suffering and what God has to say about it. In order to cope with loss and trauma we need to:
- Grieve and mourn. Confronting the intense array of emotions that accompanies grief is not easy, but God’s promise is that we will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). The feelings of shock, anger, depression, bargaining must be experienced rather than avoided. Ask God to give you the grace to work through these emotions. Joy will come in the morning.
- Share your loss. Grief must be shared. Healing often comes in telling the story. Jesus wept with his friends Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother.
- Accept support. You need the support of family and friends. Don’t isolate yourself. Allow other people to serve you in your time of need.
- If the loss or suffering involves forgiveness, do it. Don’t get stuck in grief because of unforgiveness. Eventually, bitterness will develop. Forgiveness is necessary to heal. Give it to those who have hurt you even if they don’t deserve it. Remember God forgives you when you don’t deserve it.
- Read scriptures on suffering and loss. To quote Twila Paris and her powerful song, “God is in control”. Nothing happens away from His watchful eye. When you are His, there are several reassuring promises. He’ll walk with you through the valleys and He promises His presence.
–We are troubled, perplexed, persecuted but not destroyed (2Corinthians 4:8-9).
–The righteous have many afflictions but the Lord delivers us from them all (Psalm 34:19)
–Count it all joy because it is the trying of your faith and will bring patience (James 1:2-4)
–All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)
–Sorrow and mourning will disappear and be replaced with gladness and joy (Isaiah 51:11).
–Rest will come when we give the burden to the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30).