But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:7-8 NLT)
The one thing we have all experienced during this pandemic is loss. We have experienced a loss of routine, comforts, and freedom. Some have lost jobs, homes, and, worse, lost friends and family. Loss is a common thread that weaves throughout all our lives during this time.
Would knowing loss is good in God’s economy help us endure?
The apostle Paul considered losing everything he worked all his life to achieve his great joy. Paul welcomed loss. He called his achievements and gains all trash, not even worth considering. Why? Because knowing Jesus is far better.
This past summer, I lost the comforting view of a lush green forest directly across the street from our house. From my office window, where I spend a lot of my day, I could see a pine and hardwood forest not touched by a man since its creation. Stretching across twenty-five acres, I could not see another house, a car, or another person. It’s beauty marshaled in the seasons as the trees changed from bare to blooming.
The forest is also a sanctuary for creatures. I have watched rabbits, deer, and lost dogs wander out of its boundaries and cross into our yard. I enjoyed their visit for a moment, and just as quickly as they arrived, they disappeared back into the trees. The trees were a sense of security, comfort, and beauty until they were not.
The property, we learned about a year ago, was sold for timber. I prayed and prayed that the sale would dissolve, and the property remain pristine, but that was not God’s plan. When I forgot about my disappointment that the trees were sold and told myself that it would not happen, the log trucks showed up and started cutting.
At first, I held on to the hope that some trees would remain. Just a few were all I needed. But as the days went into weeks, every tree on twenty-five acres was stripped and carried off to the paper mill.
Each morning, I awoke to the sounds of mechanical saws drawing near a tree, slicing through the trunk, and I heard the towering pines hit the ground with a thud.
It’s Not Mine
I felt helpless. One day I wandered to the mailbox just feet from where trucks and machinery were plowing through the once dense forest. As I watched tree after tree fall to the ground, I stood frozen, grasped by a gigantic hook and drug off to be stripped of limbs and leaves, loaded on a truck, and driven away to be grounded into pulp for paper. One tree fell dangerously close to where I stood. When the tree hit the ground, bark and splinters flew across the street and at my feet. I began to cry. I was losing my sweet green serenity. What was crazy is that it never belonged to me. We did not own the twenty-five acres. I had no right to mourn its loss; it never belonged to me.
And nothing I have or treasure or love is mine. It all belongs to God. What’s more, I don’t deserve what I have. They are gifts for me to use for his glory for a time. I might be able to keep them for a time, but ultimately they belong to God, not me. I will lose them.
It’s painful, of course, to suffer loss. My heart was broken to watch trees fall that did not even belong to me. The pain of losing a loved one is piercing and lasts much longer than we believe we can endure. The loss of our livelihood is devastating and launches us into anxiety and fear. Losing anything we value is difficult, but we as God’s children do not suffer a loss on a whim. Loss is part of God’s plan. To fully know God’s love, we have to give up our lives, wants, and desires. Even salvation would not be ours without the result of loss. Jesus lost his life but rose from the grave and conquered death. We have to lose our lives to gain them. We have to give up our treasures to receive a crown.
Sometimes when we lose something, we gain more than we expected.
The truck’s sound eventually stopped across the street. The acres were laid bare. My eyes and heart are adjusting to the radical change. Now, as I look out the window while I work, I see the few skinny unwanted trees that line the edges of what was once a forest.
I did not expect to gain anything from this loss. That was until I realized I saw the sky for the first time. The trees obscured my line of sight toward the sky. When I looked out the window, I could not see the clouds or the blue sky toward the horizon. I could not see the sunrise across the treetops or the sunset as it disappeared behind the trees. At night I could not see the stars and the full moon ascend and depart in the morning. The loss of trees gave me these treasures.
Now, I see the sun, moon, and stars. Now, I can enjoy the blue of the sky and watch the rain clouds approach. I do not stare at the empty ground void of limbs and leaves; I look up toward the heavens. My loss is now my gain.
Of course, it’s easy to find beauty and gain when I lost something that was never mine and over which I had no control. It’s much harder to lose something precious. Hopefully, remembering that God has a plan, and He uses every loss and gain to fulfill His purpose will comfort. The exciting thought is that He is using me, my loss as a tool to fulfill His will. For that, I am willing to lose everything.
What have you lost? Time, things, people? Take heart, friend. The God of all Comfort sees our pain. He is our comfort in times of loss, pain, and trials. Look up, not at the loss, or what’s missing, and you will see more than you expected.
What have you lost that did not belong to you in first place? What did you gain as a result?
How does God comfort you when you lose something precious? Do you trust Him to give you more? Do you believe in His good plan for your life?
Thanks to Biblegateway.com for scripture references.