Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
What do you do when your life falls apart? Maybe bad news comes one night in a phone call to say, There’s been an accident, and someone has been killed or you’ve lost your job. Or you’ve lost your financial security. Or you’ve lost a dream. You’ve had a heartbreak. What do you do?
How do you rebuild your life? I think it’s harder and takes more work to rebuild your life after a major loss than it does to build your life in the first place. But the fact is, you cannot live without loss. Everything in this world is temporary. You’re not made to live here forever. You’re made to live forever in eternity. You’re only going to get 70, 80, maybe 100 years here on this planet. That means everything is temporary—everything.
So you’re going to have major losses in your life—financial loses, health losses, loss of loved ones. Some have lost a marriage. And there are many other kinds of losses in life. How do you recover and how do you rebuild after a major loss? Because it’s inevitable. You’re going to have storms in life—you may well have tragedy (I hope not); you may have experiences of grief and failure in your life. No-one is exempt.
1. Release your grief
Loss always creates very strong emotions in us. We grieve. We worry. We fear. We may have depression. We may have anger. We watch tragedy unfold in the TV news with loss of life, and we feel great sorrow and grief if we know the people. What does God want us to do with those emotions? What does he want us to do with the emotions when we are the ones who have experienced the loss?
Don’t resist them or deny they exist. Don’t replay them over and over again and wonder what you could have done differently. And don’t reduce them by saying to yourself It was no big deal. It was a big deal and it hurt; don’t repress them and bottle them up inside. You release them. Why? Because you need to deal with your feelings either now or later.
If you don’t deal with them now, you’re just putting off the inevitable. Often what will happen is this: when you swallow your feelings your stomach keeps score. Or your back or your neck or something. When you internalise your feelings, when you stuff them down, they come out somehow, often in some kind of illness or ailment.
God tells us to release our feelings to him
And God says to you, No, don’t do that. I want you to release them. Release them to God in prayer. It’s described in the Bible as crying out to God. We see an example of this in Psalm 18:4-6: “Death had wrapped its ropes around me, and I was almost swallowed by its flooding waters. Ropes from the world of the dead had coiled around me, and death had set a trap in my path. I was in terrible trouble when I called out to you; but from your temple you heard me and answered my prayer”.
This was written by David who had people trying to kill him, especially Saul. He had been in anguish and fear of his life, and he is expressing his strong emotions in a prayer to God his protector. Where do you think your emotions came from? God gave them to you. Why? Because you are created in the image of God.
You have emotions because you’re made in his image
God has emotions. God cries. God laughs. God gets angry. God grieves. That’s why you do, too. You were made in his image and he can understand your emotions. You can tell him anything. You just cry out to God. God would rather have you be honest and release your feelings to him than for you to fake it and pretend like everything’s all right when it’s not.
Remember that old children’s song, I’m inright outright upright downright, happy all the time? I don’t think it’s a very helpful song because for most of us it’s not true. I’m not happy all the time. Sadness is part of life. In fact, Jesus even said it’s okay to mourn in Matthew 5:4: “God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort.”
So he says it’s ok to release your grief and tell God exactly how you feel. Psalm 62:8 says, “…pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge”.
(To be continued in Rebuilding Your Life – Part 2)