My heart has been broken so many times. My heart was broken when I was a child, a teenager, and an adult. My heart has been broken as a friend, boyfriend, pastor, husband, and father. How many times has your heart been hurt? And how many times have I hurt someone else?
Loss is unavoidable in this life. You can’t be bubbled wrapped and live a real life. You can’t avoid loss and pain because it is inevitable. In this life with other humans, with our own neediness, and with the march of time transition, changes and disappointments are unescapable. Loss is predestined as our frail bodies move towards their end.
We lament and shake our fists at God asking why we have to suffer such disappointments. Yet we rarely cement our character when we are at the party. When we go through the valleys of this life our character deepens and we become stronger.
The apostle Paul speaks about how in the depths of our losses God is working. “We [boast] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5)
While we cannot avoid losses, we can choose to avoid grief. When we avoid grief we are damaging ourselves. For grief is a truly a gift from God to help us move through the losses of this life. We are supposed to feel something. The worst thing we can do is to stuff our grief and pretend the loss did not happen. When we stuff our grief, it comes out sideways in unhealthy and neurotic behavior.
Grief can also be holy. The LORD grieves over the sin and rebellion of this world (Isa 63:10, Jer 8:21). The Father grieves over the death of His Son on the cross for the sin of this hurting world (Zech 12:10). Christ grieves over this sin-filled world from His Cross. Grief is an emotion from God to mourn over the hurt and loss of what is sacred and valuable.
So, for us Lent is a time to grieve over our broken relationship with God. Grieving over our sins will lead us to healing and wholeness. For the LORD repeatedly promises to turn our grief into joy (John 16:20). So we can grieve with confidence that the LORD will comfort us and give us joy and praise instead of mourning and despair (Isa 61:2-3)
“We loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV)