“I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 10:1
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. …And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4, 7
I told innumerable people early on that I was on a new and long unwanted journey. I spoke of it in a cerebral manner. I knew it to be true, but I didn’t understand it yet. Loss is like a slow starvation, long and painful. It’s a sadness that simply goes deeper and deeper and you have no way of stopping it. Job and Paul are both correct. There’s loathing and rejoicing. A confusing dance of experiences and feelings.
I cannot overstate the pervasive, life-altering, uninvited nature of such a loss. The long part of my description turned out to be more true than I could have fathomed. The insidious nature of the inescapable change is, indeed, new and long. It just won’t go away.
But, I learned to face the loss. It’s a choice. I’ve learned to embrace the undeniable. I’ve been intentional. Believe it or not, there does seem to be an option whether you face loss or not. However, I learned to do it with the faith-filled knowledge that I wasn’t going to face my loss alone.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I will never forget visiting Paul and Brennan and their boys for the Easter weekend. All went well until after church. We innocently did what we knew to do on Easter Sunday. Take pictures after church. I squatted to get a picture with Beckett and Camden, two handsome grandsons. I was smiling on the outside, but I was experiencing excruciating pain on the inside. It was my first posed pictures without Kim—alone. It’s just not good for man to be alone. This echo kept insulting me at every turn. Pain became a constant reminder shouting that I was on a new, long, and unwanted journey.
I’ll never forget the day when the word endurance came to rest heavily in my heart. It was a profound realization. Mine was a long journey that would require stamina. It wasn’t going to be an easy journey. It wasn’t going to be short-lived. I have to stay in it, face it, and endure it.
“…we could choose to step out of the redemptive story, not allowing enough time to see it unfold to the end. It is, after all, hard to stay in the story, considering the cost involved.“ Jerry Sittser, A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life
Micro-stories are set in the macro-story, the redemptive story. Jerry Sittser goes on to call this journey we are all traveling “a strange story.” While it is “still unfolding, it is already finished.” In other words, we know by faith how our redemptive story ends, regardless of our individual parts of the story. That fuels my endurance!
I have learned loss requires that I marshal endurance for my long and unwanted journey.
“A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” Proverbs 18:14
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13