Loss is one of life’s inescapable realities. It is so much a part of the human experience, it’s like the air we breathe. Loss forces us to realize that even the good things we want and enjoy are fragile, temporary and unrecoverable. Yet God meets us in our loss and gives us others to share the sorrow of our losses with. We are all companions in the same essential battle, dealing with the same essential questions.
As Christians, we know our sorrows are to be transformed into something deeply and eternally good. But sometimes our loss is so great that our experience drowns out all truth and all hope. Yet through our suffering, God pours out his love in Christ Jesus. And in God’s timing, he intends his love to overflow and spill into the lives of others through us. The comfort we receive from God helps us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3–7).
This video study (based on the 2014 National Conference – Loss: Finding Hope that Lasts When Life Falls Apart) provides a biblical framework for understanding loss, and equips you to give wise help as you walk alongside others who are grieving.
Lesson 1: All is Lost – David Powlison (55:59)
David defines “loss,” showing its connection to the human experience and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He discusses two life trajectories in the face of loss: life is pointless and you are alone in your losses, or life is moving toward an indestructible hope even in the face of your losses.
Lesson 2: Speaking Our Losses and Finding Refuge – Alasdair Groves (40:22)
Alasdair shows how the psalmists engage God in the midst of their losses: they speak to God, they listen to God, they accept, and they obey. This pattern captures what Jesus himself did when he faced his own death.
Lesson 3: Partners in Suffering and Comfort – Michael Emlet (40:04)
Mike discusses God’s intent to patiently transform our losses and sorrows so that we might be conduits of comfort to one another. Jesus is central to the comfort we receive and give. We partner with him as we walk alongside others in their sorrows and losses.
Lesson 4: Loss—The Only Door to God – Winston T. Smith (44:01)
Winston discusses how loss and suffering are central to our identity as God’s children. When we are joined with Christ, we are united with him in his suffering. Yet when Jesus faced profound loss he also felt profound loss, and even as he felt profound loss he experienced hope in God.
Lesson 5: Thomas Boston—Opening Death’s Hard Cold Hands – Aaron Sironi (54:13)
Aaron introduces us to Thomas Boston, a 17th century pastor who experienced profound losses in his life. As a pastor and disciple of Jesus Christ, Boston models honest yet steadfast faith in the face of many losses and afflictions. Heartfelt worship, humility and honest crying out to the Lord taught Boston how to live in the face of his losses.
Lesson 6: The Apostle Paul’s Odd Balance Sheet – Edward T. Welch (38:36)
Ed discusses how Jesus’ master story of life conquering death rescripts the Apostle Paul’s story of life and losses (Galatians 2:20). We ought to ask ourselves, “How can our stories of loss be increasingly shaped and taken over by the story of Christ?”