"Be on your guard against all greed, For life is more than what we own. Our Father knows our ev'ry need, Before our needs to us are known.
"Be not afraid to suffer loss, Of all the things for which you pray, For He who faced for you the cross, Will give you strength to live each day."
This has been a year of losses for me and my family. We've had a dozen people we cared for die -- two in our own family -- and several others go on hospice. My husband had a stroke as well. I'm ready to say goodbye to 2018!
When I think of loss, I think of fear. How could I not? And yet our hymn today says, "Be not afraid to suffer loss of all the things for which you pray." At first sight, that's scary. I pray for many things I don't want to lose: my husband, my family, my church, my health. How can I not be afraid at the idea of losing what I love?
But the hymn goes on: "For He who faced for you the cross, will give you strength to live each day." Okay. I know this is true. It's only Jesus who makes it possible for me to go on each day, facing new losses and knowing more will come in the future.
You see, the worst part of loss is not knowing where the lost one has gone or what has happened to that lost one. Will we ever again see what we have lost? Is he or she safe? Will I ever regain the thing I have lost?
If we believe in a great blank -- a void, that swallows up all our losses -- then there is no hope. What we have lost is gone forever, never to resurface, never even to have an existence apart from me. It's just -- gone. Who cannot fear that?
But if we believe in a God whose eye is on the sparrow, a God who has numbered every hair on our heads, who calls us His own children, then our losses change. What we lose, we lose into His hands. That person I love -- she is in God's care. That thing I can no longer do because the disability of my body makes it impossible -- God can restore that in the resurrection. Even those things I have forgotten are in the mind of God, who never forgets. He does not lose the past, as I do. He is the One who created time.
That gives me the strength to go on living, trusting Jesus who loved me -- who loved you! -- so much that He lost everything for us: home, family, life itself on the cross. He entrusted Himself to God the Father, knowing that God would bring Him again from the dead, and would restore life to Him and life to us who love Him. If God can restore Jesus, surely, we can safely entrust everything else we love into His hands. And we can bear our losses with patience -- with grief, yes, but with hope as well. For, as Paul put it, "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day" (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, it's all in Your hands -- our loved ones, friends, our health, even our lives. Teach us to trust in Your love -- a love that shone most clearly in the sending of Your Son Jesus on our behalf. It is in His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo. It is based on the hymn, "Consider How the Birds Above," which is found on page 736 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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