A Time For Change
Summer is in full swing. Personally, I like the change in seasons. Perhaps I get bored and, after a few months, I am ready for something different. Thinking about changing seasons reminds me of change in general. Change always involves loss. A central aspect of loss is the letting go of one thing in order to embrace a new thing.
Loss is difficult. It is stressful. This is because loss involves attachment and significant emotion. The greater the degree of our attachment to the lost object, the greater the intensity of the emotional response. Loss evokes sadness, anger, and fear of change. Both the emotional response and the reorientation of life are experienced as stress. We call this grief.
Losses, large and small, and the accompanying grief process are a normal part of life. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that loss and change are a normal part of God’s created order in this life. God does not leave us alone in our loss and grief; in fact, he is very active in it. There are two things that we know for certain about God’s work in our loss and grief.
First of all, he comforts us in the midst of loss. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tell us that God is the source of all comfort and that he often comforts us through other people. Besides him being in the loss with us, another important takeaway is the value of not isolating in loss (which we are inclined to do). As we share our grief with others, we experience God’s comfort.
Secondly, loss is an opportunity. While we go through life according to the plans we have made, it is ultimately God who “orders our steps” (Proverbs 16:9). If this is true, then God is in the loss/change. It is an opportunity to embrace what he is doing. It can be very difficult in the midst of grief to detach from what was lost, to embrace the new - all the while feeling intense emotion. All the more reason for community and others who will bear our burdens.
Let us have the courage to share our burdens of change and loss with others; and let us be sensitive to and supportive of others in such a position. Finally, may God give us the courage to follow where he is leading.
Tom Barbian, Ph.D.
Executive Director of the Christian Counseling Center of First Presbyterian Church