Well over a year ago, Dr. Ronnie Floyd and the leaders of the National Day of Prayer movement asked me to write an article about praying for people experiencing suffering or loss. As a cancer survivor, I thought I was an expert about the topic. Right after I accepted the invitation to write the article, my wife died. In addition, my church went through a number of difficulties with building our new sanctuary.
As I prepared to write my article, I realized that many people don’t have a biblical framework to deal with suffering and loss. Therefore, we are not aware of how to handle or recover from the setbacks that affect every one of our lives. As a young preacher I was instructed not to share my struggles with my audience. This advice led me into a “fake it until you make it” mentality. But without transparency about our common struggles, much of our teaching sounds like arrogant theory instead of compassionate advice from real practitioners of biblical truth.
All of us have experienced extreme losses ranging from the death of a loved one to the loss of a job. These losses and their pain must be addressed and overcome. There is a verse in the book of Job that should encourage everyone struggling with loss. My take on this verse is that born again people who are cut down by loss can recover if they understand the laws of the Spirit. The verse reads as follows: “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.” (Job 14:7; Darby Bible Translation)
It goes on to suggest that just the scent of life-giving water, which is a picture of the Holy Spirit, will start a process of resurrection within a tree that seems to be dead. When my wife died, something within me died. The pain was almost unbearable. But the life-giving Holy Spirit within me kept saying that this is the end of a chapter of your life, not the end of your book.
A friend of mine lost his business and several million dollars with it. The loss broke his spirit. His emotional healing has been slow because he sees this set back as a life defining failure. Please remember that loss and shame often work together. They are like train tracks that can take us away from the will of God. How do we heal the wounds of grief and loss? How do we climb out of the pits of depression, self-doubt, and hopelessness?
The life-giving Holy Spirit who lives within my friend wants him to know that his loss and failure is the end of a chapter of his life, but it is not the end of his book.
Sometimes we simply have to get over the devastating loss or grief in our life. In my case, the week after Vivian’s death, I came home early one day and stared at her favorite seat in our family room. It was in that very room I saw her last. I had to remind myself that she would never hug my youngest daughter in that room again or roll her eyes while laughing at one of my silly jokes again. Some losses are reversible, some losses are not. My wife is not lost, she’s in Heaven. She’s more alive now than she has ever been. But she will never return.
I have had to learn how to draw strength and health from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Personal revival and spiritual intimacy are gateways to growth through loss. At times of personal shaking, trauma, and family loss we can choose growth instead of depression and anger. Isaiah said something profound in the sixth chapter of his prophetic book, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
Some scholars believe that Isaiah was a cousin of Uzziah. Therefore, his world changed when the larger than life king was moved off the scene by the Lord. When my major family members died, I have chosen to draw closer to God in the wake of their exit into eternity. When my father died just before my beginning football camp with the New England Patriots, I chose to whole heartedly follow Jesus. Next when my mother died a few years ago, I entered a new dimension of prayer and consecration. Finally, upon losing my wife, my ministry has been launched into a deeper international, prophetic dimension.
What about your choices? Are you going to grow through your losses? I recommend that you take 4 radical steps of faith:
1. Double the time you spend praying, reading the Word, and worshiping privately for 7 days.
2. Get a personal counselor to help you make a plan of healing and life advancement.
3. Join a Grief Share group in your city.
4. Listen to my messages entitled “Entering Your Promised Land.”
Step up to a new dimension! Don’t Step down into the pit of despair. And keep the faith!
Are you facing loss?
We hope that Bishop Harry Jackson’s testimony has been encouraging to you! If you find yourself in the midst of grief today, we want you to know that you’re not alone. Daystar is here to pray with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply call us at 1-800-329-0029 or click here to connect with our prayer team online.
If you’d like to hear from others who have survived tragedy and found hope in the face of loss, check out these incredible stories from Joni Table Talk: