The pain associated with a loss never goes away.
No matter what the loss--the death of a loved one, the rupturing of a relationship, the loss of a job, the death of a dream--the pain always remains. It would be unnatural for us not to grieve or always a carry a sense of our loss: We were made in God's image, created for eternity and shalom. But the inborn condition of alienation from God--what the Bible calls sins--distorts us and disrupts God's good intentions for each of us. We grieve as we lose the life we know, deep in our DNA, for which we were made. But there is good news!
God became one of us in Jesus Christ. He lived a sinless life on this planet, yet faced the terrors of this life, yielding Himself on a cross He didn't deserve, all for our benefit.
So that God can stand with us in all our losses and assure us that our Maker, Who also has endured loss, understands.
So that Christ could receive the wrath and rejection that our wrathful rejection of God earns us, turning the wrath from us onto Himself, setting us free from judgment for our sinful condition and the sins we perpetrate against God, each other, and ourselves because of that condition.
So that Christ could, as the prototype of a new human race, devoid of sin, filled with everlasting life, made strong in grace, secure the same resurrection victory for us that God the Father gave to Him on the first Easter Sunday.
Jesus says, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)
The world and all of its losses have been overcome by Jesus and His victory belongs to anyone who, by the power and grace of God's Spirit that can change a life for eternity, turns from their own sin and sense of self-sufficiency and instead entrusts themselves to Christ. This is what Jesus calls believing in Him or having faith.
Loss is a reality in this finite and fallen world. The God of the cross can comfort us with His Word, the sacraments, and the Church. The Church is the fellowship of recovering sinners (I'm one of those!) who are being reshaped by the grace only Christ gives.
But, make no mistake about it, loss has met its conqueror. He is Jesus Christ, God the Son in the flesh.
Believers in Christ know that beyond their futures in this loss-filled world, we will live as God intended us to live: free of death, sin, relational disruptions. We will be eternally one with God and with all those sinners who are sainted by grace through faith in Christ.
There, God "...will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
In the light of this reality, we can live today fearlessly. We can love even when our love is rejected. We can fight to bring justice to the despised, the ignored, the unloved. Even in the face of our losses, Jesus can free us to live.
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]