As a marketplace chaplain, I have the privilege of ministering to people from all walks of life from wide-ranging socio-economic, religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Some are single, while others are married. Some are younger, while others are older. Some are parents, while others are grandparents. And still others have what they affectionately refer to as, “fur babies,” (their beloved family pets).
As I have visited with and listened to individuals from each of these different groups, all with their own unique stories and experiences of life, work, and faith, what I have come to discover is that a common source of struggle among them all is for their “lost loved ones.” A “lost loved one” can mean different things to different people. For some, “lost love ones” may be children who have been raised in the faith, who are now rebelling from that faith. For others, they may represent deep and meaningful relationships from the past who have since abandoned those relationships in favor of new experiences and new influences. Still for others, they may simply represent those loved ones who cause them worry in a general sense. Whatever the case may be, people who struggle with “lost loved ones” struggle with heart-wrenching feelings that cannot easily be quelled.
As I’ve listened to more and more of these stories of struggle over lost loved ones, I have become keenly aware of the hurt and fear undergirding the words used to convey these stories. I have observed emotions as they’ve manifested physiologically in the form of heavy breathing, skin discolorations, and tears. I have experienced the feeling of worry as it has become an almost palpable feature of the environment as individuals have described the pain of their losses. One of the biggest and most surprising losses I’ve observed in the midst of these circumstances, however, has been the loss of faith and trust.
It is interesting that one of the most challenging and difficult things for us to do when we experience struggles in life is to have faith and trust in God, because this is exactly what God calls us to do! In John 16 when Jesus’ disciples were fearful of the imminent reality of His departure, Jesus answered their fear with the assurance that He had everything under control. And that is His assurance for us as well! In verse 33 (ESV), Jesus said, “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Though the disciples had been with Jesus for three years and had seen Him perform numerous miracles, they still needed His reassuring word as a reminder to them that He was in control, and we need those reminders too! Every. Single. Time.
So the next time you experience fear of loss over a loved one or any other challenge this world has to offer, I pray you would see your fear instead as an invitation to trust in Him. Remember Christ’s encouragement to take heart, because He has overcome the world!