2016. It has been a year filled with laughter, joy, heartache, disappointment, loss and pain. For me, personally, this year has come at a great cost to what I cherish most—family.
About six months ago, my beautiful, loving father passed away from cancer. It was a journey of about seven months from finding out the diagnosis to when my father went to be with the Lord.
Many say it was incredibly short, others have said it was a long time to suffer—but deep down, months later after many tears, prayers and lying awake at night, I know God is more in control now that I have ever known him to be my entire life.
Many people who experience loss eventually come to a point in their life where they realise they must make up their mind to do one of two things; press forward or choose to be angry and give up. Usually it is the point that we feel as though we have exhausted all our effort, every resource to see the good again and yet, each new day we are given a chance.
Whilst it may be easy to give up and think that nothing will get better—to some degree this is the easy way out. The alternative, however, is much more difficult.
God in his fullness, his mercy, his grace and love; wants so much more for us than to take an easy way out of any circumstance that is attempting to knock us out.
When loss happens, it is hard and, truth be told, it sucks. Whether it is losing a job opportunity that we really wanted, finding out a close friend has betrayed our trust, losing a family member to something completely out of our control, or perhaps it is a relationship breakdown of a whirlwind romance.
Life gives us many opportunities to feel broken, angry, discouraged or even resentful towards the future.
At present, on a global scale, there is so much turmoil across the globe; from natural disasters, political unrest and even the anxious outlook of the stock market.
So how do we, as Christians, face all of this with a sense of peace?
In Proverbs chapter 31, verse 25 it says, "Strength and honour are her clothing and she shall rejoice in time to come".
This verse shows us that whilst we may not be rejoicing right now, we shall rejoice in time to come. God has the ability to rebuild our hope, strength, and faith. He is faithful to teach us new ways to fully trust in Him.
In Psalms chapter 46, verse 10 we are reminded to: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth".
And yes, this is easier said than done, but it was my Dad who taught me that the outlook of life is only what you choose it will be.
Even in his last days in hospital, he was found talking to other patients, sharing the gospel and providing hope to others while he himself was in need.
When we choose to trust God, great things will come out of a season of loss.
God can truly can take the broken remnants of loss and build something incredibly valuable and constructive out of it.
The values that come out of loss as we learn life lessons are quite possibly the strongest lessons that we will ever know.
These lessons show us that there is so much more to life than we could ever attain on our own. We discover the facets of humanity, wholeness and out of brokenness, we are able to understand what it means to love God and love others.
I once read that when life throws bricks at you; pick them up and use them to pave a clearer path to God. Yes, you may be a little more bruised and sore but gosh, the way loss refines your spirit, outlook and the power it has to make life more genuine and authentic is something else.
James chapter 1, verse 12 puts it like this "Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life."
There is hope
I have learnt that there is no easy way out of grief and it is the one thing that no matter what you do, you cannot run away so I may as well stand still—feel the emotion and allow God to work himself through my heartache, questions, emotions and fuel these for growth.
By no means, have I "made it" or reached the destination, and probably will not do that for some time, but what I have found is that God will find us wherever we choose to allow him to come, to be a part of our everyday, to bring peace when all else fails and give him praise through the storm, through the tears and through the questions that we all battle with daily.
A prayer for you
God can use the small, as well as the great, of any situation to bless your life and the lives of others around you. I pray that if you feel as though you are in a situation of pain or grief that you may ask God to help you to develop the courage you need to press forward.
Meenal Chandra is a Sydney-based writer who knows there is more in store.
Meenal Chandra's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html