[This article is one of the 31 devotionals in our new resource, Refreshed: A Devotional for Women in Dry Seasons. Through Scripture, 31 devotionals, application questions, and spiritual disciplines, Refreshed will help you establish the habit of watering your soul with the truth of God's Word. Find it in the Well-Watered Co. today.]
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Tears hit the bathroom floor with precision as I squeezed my knees against my chest, desperately hoping to ease the ache within. After several hours of enduring my young son’s terrifying episode of psychosis, I sat in the piercing silence of my pain and heartbreak. The child I loved and brought into this world was sick in a way that caused him to turn against me as his enemy—when in reality, the true enemy was the sickness that was wreaking havoc in his brain and body. But regardless of the cause, my heart felt as though it was irreparably shattered.
In that moment, and countless others like it, I stood at a crossroad. If God loves me as his child, where is he in these moments when the brokenness of this world and the immense suffering that’s come as a result seem to win?
In that moment, the Holy Spirit nudged me with an image that struck me to the core—Jesus nailed to the cross. There he hung, at the violent hands of the very ones he was laying down his life for, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). God’s response was silence. And the result was sin and evil claiming the victory—or so it seemed.
But I knew that wasn’t the end of the story. And this wasn’t the end of mine.
As another tear hit the bathroom floor, an unexpected wave of comfort washed over me. In this moment, I was tasting a fraction of the pain Jesus felt as he hung on the cross. He knew exactly what it was like to be treated as the enemy by those he was giving his life for. He knew what it was like to know God could save him but to suffer the unimaginable anyway. He knew what it was like for it to appear as if sin and Satan had won, yet endure until the end, knowing his death would bring us life.
As that image seared in my mind, Paul’s words came to life in a whole new way: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8b).
Jesus gave up everything for our gain. And it might take losing what we love in order to see the true value of what he’s purchased for us.
It’s okay for loss to feel like loss. In all reality, having hope in and beyond our sorrows doesn’t make pain feel any less like pain. Paul acknowledged that he suffered the loss of all things. He doesn’t sugarcoat it with empty spiritual cliches. He says it like it is, and so can we.
But we can’t get stuck there. Because our pain no longer represents our separation from God. Instead, it reminds us of what we’ve been spared from for eternity because of what Jesus endured on our behalf, enabling us to not only share in his sufferings but in his comfort as well (2 Cor. 1:5).
Friend, this is where we must begin if the words that follow are to carry the weight they’re meant to. Because it’s the very magnitude of the cost that makes the declaration of gain so powerful.
As much as we despise suffering, it’s often not until we experience the pain and disappointments of this world that we grasp the depths of Christ’s forgiveness, strength, presence, comfort, and joy.
In fact, seasons of profound loss are where I’ve tasted the sweetest comfort of Christ as he’s held my shattered life, wrapped me in his promises, and shaped my heart to reflect more of his. He’s used the loss of many “good things” to increase my gratitude for the radical love Jesus showed by giving up his heavenly comforts and entering our painful world to rescue us from that which we couldn’t rescue ourselves. And if he was willing to sacrifice his life for our salvation and joy, certainly he won’t take anything from us unless he has something greater to give in its place.
As we choose to view our losses in light of God’s Word, our faith roots will deepen through the power of the Spirit and, Lord willing, lead us to say with confidence (even if through tears), I’ve suffered many losses, but it’s been worth the cost to know more of Christ. Because through those losses, I’ve gained more of his comfort, relentless love, character, and faithfulness in a way that’s far outweighed what I’ve lost.
Sister, if you’re enduring a loss, allow yourself to grieve the pain it’s brought, because Jesus does. But let me assure you as one who’s been there—though your losses may be great, the treasures to be found in Christ far outweigh anything this world can take. Bring your sorrows to Jesus and find comfort in knowing that he carries them with you. As you trust him, he will be faithful to his promises and “give [you] a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that [you] may be called [an oak] of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified (Isa. 61:3).
Water Your Soul
What loss have you experienced in life that you can now look back on and see as something God used to draw you to himself and make you more like him?
Today, whenever you feel grief, sadness, or anger arise from a current difficulty in your life, stop and pray, “Lord, this hurts, and I don’t understand it. But like Paul, help me to trust you right now, even when I don’t understand. Don’t waste this. Instead, use it to bring me to a place where I can honestly say, ‘I count all as loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Yes, even this.’”
Meet the Author
Sarah Walton is a mom of four children and the author of Hope When It Hurts, Together Through the Storms, and Tears and Tossings. She and her family live in Colorado Springs, where they enjoy exploring the limitless beauty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In her free time, she dreams about what she would do if she actually had free time.
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