“And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, Before the cock crow you shall deny me three times” Luke 22:61 KJV
The whole subject of loss and losing faith are connected. As it is loss must connect with our theme on Contradictions, the contradictions we experience when we are taught that the Christian faith is about a God who is faithful. Our loss is when we experience the loss of health, loss of a family member, loss of employment, loss of finance. Loss is a contradiction which today people desire to flee away from with neat packages of positive scripture and perspective.
Christian TV is replete with testimony of those who minister, who have victorious lives, prosperous lives. I think I have touched on some of these themes elsewhere. However we must connect loss to the apparent contradiction that in the painful experience we do not sense God in the midst of our process of loss, losing. In fact loss can lead to losing our faith and embracing the premise that we have been “deluded” into believing that the Christian faith is about being positive, being a winner. It is about being victorious, but what the Bible teaches us, that these victories do not come without a battle, in the midst of a war already won!
In this whole issue of loss, no more can we get a more reliable source to clear up the misunderstandings than the Gospels themselves to find out if loss is there. The greatest example is the whole process of the crucifixion, Jesus’ betrayal.
We must pick up the painful process at the entry to the Upper Room. Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. In the midst of dismounting all their present mentalities, Jesus becomes troubled in spirit, and foretells the fact that within their midst is a betrayer, and with the betrayer comes betrayal. Consternation comes to the whole company, and Judas is revealed. John is quite graphic about this revelation, revealing a spiritual reality than just revealing the betrayer, but also the spiritual condition that this betrayer became, in that Satan himself entered as Judas took the bread. And it is here that we see that our loss, is our Judas, filled with Satan, there putting in motion a painful process, however we know that it is a necessary process.
Then we see through the 4 Gospels the whole process of the Last Supper. My sensation in reading and meditation of this, is that noone there was paying much attention to what Jesus was saying. Their perception was coloured by their whole humanity, expectations, ambitions, doctrinal positions, to be able to be aware that Jesus was preparing them for the worst hours to come!
It brings me neatly to remember a painful moment almost 28 years ago, when I lost my own father to cancer. A loss. In that time I was training with my own Church, and in that time I saw in the length of 18 months a deterioration in my father’s state, culminating in January 1990 to the diagnosis reached. It seems from then on the race to the end picked up pace.
It was in this time that God began to come very close, speaking to me concerning a Bible event in Genesis, where Abraham on his way to the Promised Land, had to leave Terah in Haran, who died. The scripture lent the idea that a turning point was reached. This carried on for over a month. The Lord, I ascertained was near, and from friends, who wrote along the same passages alerted me that I was not undergoing a simple subjective spiritual experience.
So in April my father passed away, and we always see that not everyone deals with loss the same way. It hits hard and hits in a way to either make or break a person. For me it was an experience of great consolation as I looked to God with dismay to find such Comfort beyond my own understanding. For others it has never been recovered from, for which one has to learn that not everyone can recover the same way, if at all.
But it must bring us to the fact that loss is part of the Gospel…as it was for the disciples. In the hour of Jesus’ Garden prayer experience, a heaviness settled on the hearts of the disciples, and they fell asleep. Jesus alone, experienced the agony, of what He saw before Him in a few hours from then. It is described as agony of soul, a dialogue between Son and Father, Son feeling the human feelings of impending and crushing apprehension, as He knows what has been planned. He would be the Paschal Lamb sacrificed in a way so cruel and so symbolic, that today the Cross, the Crucifix is symbolic of that death.
As Jesus agonized the Scripture describes a known medical condition, called sweating blood. This is produced by severe anxiety and severe dread. Then a crowd began to approach led by Judas, and the kiss, and the seizing of Jesus brings a reaction in the disciples. They flee, and Peter attempts to “rescue” Jesus from a process predestined before the foundation of the world. It is Peter who follows from afar, the rest being fled. And Judas, immediately sees the enormity of his act, throws the silver before the Sanhedrin. They paid no attention as Judas had served the purpose they anxiously searched for for 3 years. Judas is overtaken by guilt, probably because the indwelling Satan had now accomplished the task for which Judas completed, now departing leaving Judas bereft of God and bereft of all. He hangs himself.
We only see John follow Jesus with His mother, to the end. At the cross. And Jesus Himself losing for moments, that sweet communion with His Father, and being “made sin”, He experiences our separation, which has accompanied since Adam.
Once we see the disciples locked away in the Upper Room. Their dreams and aspirations evaporated, and the meaning of Jesus’ teaching , His miraculous acts, all in question in His Death.
I have seen this happen at close quarters in many ways, when we go through situations of loss, it seems we are very much dealing with it alone. We are isolated with our doubts, and questions. We are left staring at contradiction. The disciples are not recorded as saying anything in those days, all we see is Peter deciding to return to his old life as a fisherman. His companions following him. And so it is with our faith. We are alone, none can give us a plausible answer, and we are left to discard what we have walked in, to be tempted to return to a secular life.
Whilst all this is going on, the Scriptures tell us something else was going on. Jesus having entered death, went to Hades to preach to the righteous dead awaiting.
It was there that Jesus snatched the keys of death and Hades, and led the captives there to their eternal home as they saw Jesus as their Messiah, prophesied by their Scriptures.
The Scripture then tells us that the Father raised Him, bringing Him victorious over all, and with a Glorified Body was then revealed in the Garden. It is two angels who announced that He had risen. And then in encountering Mary Magdalene, gave specific instruction to those who fled, and namely who denied Him to meet Him.
Even presented Himself in the Upper Room, and all made sense.
Loss became more than gain here, as many dimensions of existence had changed. The devil was stripped of his authority, the death of the saints was no longer for imprisoning, but for delivering into a glorious eternity.
And coming back to contradiction in a context of loss, is where we learn that loss is a process where we acquire great gain if we trust God to teach us and bring us through. I have missed my own father, yet I have not grieved with such gloom. And other losses I have experienced, not pleasant at the time, became turning points of great gain.
We know that the rising again of Jesus, opened them to the fact that He who wins over death, must have come back with a greater objective. I can imagine the wonder in the minds of the disciples, the openess to what He had to say, and maybe for the first time understand the purpose of His Mission.
Loss in our lives is an essence of death at work, bringing into operation processes which bring us a greater depth of life and understanding. The key is not to allow our losses define us, but refine us. If we trust God we will surely see that our losses bring us into a place where human limitations, expectations and ambitions are killed off in favour of greater unlimited horizons, visions and inspirations that will cause us to understand that we are not here maintaining, but attaining an eternal essence to existence.
There was an added loss to their experience after, Jesus left them, ascended to heaven. There was however an added dimension and depth of their lives, they were spiritually opened in a new depth of understanding.
This culminated in Pentecost when the unlimitted Person of God poured over them and in them.
So in all that process they were filled with God Himself.
In concluding this, I would like to encourage you as you are going through losses, pain, and everything that pertains to what appears to be contradiction. The greatest Consolation is that God is mapping out always a way to open our spiritual eyes to see a greater objective. Our losses in Christ become gains as we submit them to Him. The Cross is the central loss centre for us. We need to walk to the Cross and leave our losses there. We need to be open to the fact that even if we lose faith, there will be processes at work to bring us into a new place.
What we are guaranteed is that we will not stay in LOSS. And what we are publishing here is not positive thinking, but a message with life examples, that have proved time and time again that God and His Word surprise us with the answers we need if we submit our lives to Him.
Jesus took our loss to the Cross and brought us Gain with His Risen Self.