It is an obvious truth that every human being has to deal with one type of loss or another as he goes through life. It is natural to feel some grief over a loss, but sooner or later one learns to deal with the loss and move on.
One of a child’s first experiences of loss is losing a “baby” tooth or more. I’ve heard of kids who bawled a long time while looking in a mirror and seeing themselves missing a tooth or more. The kid may endure some teasing by friends and folks about his “new look.” A caring parent or adult companion would easily calm the kid by explaining that soon a new, permanent tooth or more will grow in place of the one or ones he lost. And when the new – proportionately larger — tooth or teeth do appear, the kid would often flash a big smile and brag about the new growth.
As we move on through life, we experience all sorts of losses: a favorite toy or book, some well-kept money, a dear friend who moves somewhere else, a pet dog or cat that dies. Some children have to face the early death of a parent or both, a brother, sister other relative or friend. Often adult folks would encourage the child, themselves and others by saying that the departed loved one has “gone to a better place.” [See: “What Happens to Man After Death?”]
As we reach our 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, we deal with the loss of the “glory” of youth – beauty and strength (Proverbs 20:29). Some may experience the loss of one’s tight, taut skin, muscular tone, a lot of hair and, yes, some of our permanent teeth. Many can and do avail themselves of remedies that the cosmetic arts offer.
Mid-life often brings about loss of health and vigor through diseases such as diabetes, resulting in damage to eyesight and other vital organs. Then there is the much dreaded loss of memory – dementia or Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly.
Besides health some experience the loss of a job, the loss of some property through robbery or theft, a fire, flood and other natural or man-made calamities.
Eventually, each of us has to face “the grim reaper” –whether or not we reach or exceed the God-allotted “three-score-years-and-ten” (Psalm 90:10, KJV) [NKJV, “70 years” — the average lifespan of man]. While it is natural and healthy for loved ones to grieve this loss and other losses, it is unhealthy to be too depressed, engage in self-pity, and bitterly blame people or circumstances for a long time.
A wise man’s way to cope with change or loss
I suppose many of you have heard or read about a famous quotation called “serenity prayer.” It is attributed to the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as the author, and has been popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous [AA]. [See: https://www. google.com/search?client=&q=”serenity+prayer”+author.] The prayer goes:
God, grant me the humility to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
God’s word – the Holy Bible – affirms the principle in the above “formula.” God knows there are things we cannot change because they are inherent in our nature, such as the natural color of our skin. Jeremiah 13:23 asks: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” One may use a bleaching product to whiten one’s dark skin, but after the product’s effect wears out, the natural skin condition reappears! So also does man’s evil “human nature” make it impossible for a man do good. The apostle Paul dealt with this human dilemma, in Romans 7:14-24.
On the other hand, the Bible is mostly about God’s call for man to change! Because all men have sinned or transgressed God’s holy laws (Romans 3:23; 1 John 3:4), God commands all to repent – change from sinning, to obeying God’s laws. The prophets of the Old Testament preached that message. The greatest of prophets – Jesus Christ – tells us emphatically, “…unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).
A noble “loss”
In line with His message to repent, Christ also said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost [KJV: “loses his soul”]” (Luke 9:25)? He earlier said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [by his own efforts] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” [KJV: “will find it”] (Verse 24).
The apostle Paul, who is assured of receiving “a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:9) and life everlasting (Revelation 2:10), confessed (Philippians 3:7-11): “But what things were gain to me [Verses 4-6], I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things lost for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
The greatest Old Testament prophet, Moses, decided to lose the glory and riches of Egypt – which included the “pleasures of sin” – in order to gain Christ. Hebrews 11:24-26 says: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the [greater] reward [from Christ].” [See: The Deceitfulness of Sin.]
Because it is impossible for man to obey God’s laws on his own merits, God offers His Holy Spirit as a gift to help man live righteously. [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, Breaking Down our “Walls of Jericho,” Does God Require us to Do the Impossible? and “Be Holy, for I Am Holy.”]
The greatest loss of all
The greatest loss that could ever befall a man is to lose the opportunity to enter the kingdom of God and receive everlasting life through Jesus Christ because of a sin or sins not repented of and forgiven. Paul warned: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Revelation 21:8 reveals the dire fate of such unrepentant sinners as above, and other incorrigible sinners: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 22:15 reinforces God’s judgment that such sinners will be excluded from God’s holy city. This death is final – without hope of ever being given life again in the future.
Malachi 4:1-3 adds, “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble, And that day which is coming shall burn them up.’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness [Christ] shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
For those struggling with some serious sins but desire to be saved and not lost, the following articles would be of help: Should Everyone Be Allowed to Be Who They Are? The Rainbow Connection, The Conversion Therapy Controversy, and Overcoming Temptation.
This being the case, it behooves all Christians to make their election sure (2 Peter 1:10), by observing the things listed in Verses 5-8, and by knowing Christ through His word, the Bible, and – more importantly – that Christ knows us and will acknowledge us at His soon return. [See: “I Never Knew You!”]
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.