Everyone experiences loss at some time in life -from the second grader whose classmate didn’t return to school after suddenly contracting spinal meningitis, to the elderly man whose life-time neighbor dies of natural causes. In between, is a difficult range of scenarios including parents left grieving in the delivery room, children left standing by the bed of a cancer-ridden mother, husbands left to wonder “what might have been,” and wives retracing unending “what-ifs.”
Every experience is different. Yet, in each situation, we all seem to share a common sentiment: the feeling of being caught in the middle.
When a person experiences loss, it is as if a line is drawn on the timeline of their life. On one side of the line is “what once was,” and on the other side is “what is yet to be.” The problem is that it is impossible to live on both sides of the line at the same time.
The pain point is when you realize that stepping into “what is yet to be,” requires stepping away from “what once was.” I think this is why loss increases the sense of nostalgia. There is a desperate desire to keep your past as a part of your future, but you know it is impossible. The pain of loss is being caught in the middle.
This is why:
- A mother may never change the decorations in her deceased child’s room.
- A widowed husband may never be able to re-marry.
- A church member may be upset when a decoration that reminds them of their lost spouse is removed.
It’s why I still have my wife’s phone number in my contact list.
I don’t think any of these issues are necessarily “bad” or “wrong.” In fact, I think it is healthy to remember our loved ones and honor them in our own particular ways.
The problem is when we buy into the lie that “what once was” will never meet the “what is yet to be” again. If that were true, hope does not exist. It would mean that death has conquered life. Further, if that were true, it means that this life is all we have. How depressing.
Instead, the truth is that Christ has conquered death. And by the power of His resurrection, He is making all things new (Revelation 21:5) -which means that we will be reunited with our loved ones who are in Christ. Even better, our eternal reunion will be better than simply revisiting the “what once was.” It will be the ultimate fusion of “what once was” and “what is yet to be” magnified by eternity!
And, because of Christ’s work of redemption, there will be no need for counseling sessions to deal with unsaid regrets, unanswered questions, difficult admissions, or please for forgiveness. Behold, He is making all things new (Revelation 21:5)!
The best part of our reunion in Heaven will be the fact that Christ will reign perfectly in all of our relationships. We will no longer have to fear the effects of our sin or battle the distractions of the flesh.
So, in the meantime, let loss be a reminder of what awaits us as believers. Let the tension you feel between “what once was” and “what is yet to be” direct your affection toward Christ and our eternal home with Him.
Be encouraged, we won’t always be caught in the middle.