Have you ever had to take a good dose of “reality therapy”?
When I was a freshman in college, my girlfriend back home essentially told me she wasn’t my girlfriend anymore. I was brokenhearted.
When I got back to school that weekend, my brother and a friend decided to cheer me up by playing a song for me entitled “It’s Over!” They thought it was funny.
I did not think it was funny.
Their plan was probably ill-advised, but I needed to hear it. It was over.
How do you handle the loss of something precious to you? How do you deal with the aftermath of an event that will forever change your world?
Grief comes in many forms. We have much to lose: a person we love, a dream job, a reputation lost as a result of bad choices, perceived identity, health, a family in transition, and financial stability, to name a few.
We have options when it comes to dealing with loss.
Joshua’s great loss
“My life is over,” is one option—not a good option but an option, nonetheless.
Another option is to decide to allow God to do a new thing in us, to take hold of a future we can’t see, believing God is not finished with our story.
Remember the story of Moses’ successor, Joshua. He needed some reality therapy, and God was glad to give it to him.
The story is found in Joshua 1. Moses had died, Joshua was the chosen successor, and it was time to take possession of the promised land.
I can only imagine the position in which Joshua found himself. Moses was his hero (mine, too), a father figure, his mentor, and the leader who made him feel safe. Joshua had to be grief-stricken about Moses’ death and afraid about the future.
That’s when God spoke: “Joshua, Moses is dead. He’s not coming back. He is gone, but I’m still here and you are still here. It’s time for you to move into what I’ve been preparing you to do.”
Joshua responded and the rest is history.
God’s great encouragement
This is what I hear God saying to us through this story, especially in times of loss:
- “It’s appropriate to grieve.” God compassionately acknowledged Joshua’s grief.
- “Be thankful and celebrate good memories while learning from bad choices.”
- “You haven’t lost me. I am still here like I have always been.”
- “Your story is not over. I have plans.”
- “Take my hand. You can’t take hold of tomorrow until you release your grip on yesterday.”
Recently, I was watching a TV program and the host, Cesar Millan, quoted a saying I’ve heard several times. He didn’t give credit to the author, probably because no one really knows who said it first. It goes like this: “The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called the present.”
The future is a mystery to us but not to Jesus.
Today is a gift from him. I am learning to receive today with gratitude and anticipation and to determine to be a gift to Jesus and to others. Today is what we have.
How can we know what this new thing is that God desires to do through and in us?
We have to begin to relax our grip on the past in order to grasp our future. Celebrate the past, learn from the past, but admit that it is history; it’s over. That is a difficult thing to do, but it is the reality therapy we need.
Welcome the gift of today and determine to become a daily gift to Jesus and others. If you and I will do that, there is no need to search for God’s purpose for our future. Our purpose will find us. We do not want to miss it.
Yesterday is history and tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift.
Don’t waste it. Receive and embrace it. One day at a time, sweet Jesus.