One of the most uncomfortable, disruptive and fearful experiences we may have is when we experience loss. One can experience loss in a variety of ways. For example, you may experience a sense of loss when you actually lose something that you need, your car keys, wallet or purse. However, these usually are temporary losses and solutions do exist, though they are often time consuming and expensive. Perhaps you have experienced loss in a more egregious manner, such as the loss of a friendship, a job you loved, an opportunity you nurtured, the death of a loved one or a setback in your health. These types of losses are often permanent. and we may find ourselves forever saddened by them.
I imagine that the greatest loss, that could be triggered by a lessor loss, is the loss of hope. There has been much written and studied about hope, and it’s interesting how much strength we often derive from hope. The sense of purpose, for example, is connected to hope. We will hear survivor stories where the survivor never lost hope of the pending rescue or the deep desire to be free. Nelson Mandela is an example of someone who never lost hope despite overwhelming odds.
When is hope genuine and when is it not? I sense that the gift of true hope is one of the most precious gifts God gives us. The gift is given to us, often, as an antidote to the overwhelming sense of dread and despair. For example, the idea of birth, life and death can be somewhat overwhelming. I have often said to Lisa, my wife, that life appears to be a roller coaster that only ends in death; there is no option of disembarking from the ride of life. The mere thought of this can be a bit overwhelming and depressing as we find ourselves quoting King Solomon in saying… “everything is meaningless” (though you must read to the end). However, when you drip some God given hope into the narrative, it gives birth to a newfound purpose, and suddenly life has a vigor about it that is not humanly defined. Therefore, hope is not a luxury it’s a necessity.
First we find the father
Recently I heard a line from a story that caught my attention. The context was that a young vulnerable teenage woman was fleeing a very abusive situation. She had violently escaped her captors and in so doing was on the run, knowing that if she was caught, she would suffer and die. The young woman is discovered by a good Samaritan who hears her story of dread and is willing to help her get to a place of safety. The rescuer happened to know the father of this young woman, and as she was pleading to be taken to a safe place, he responded by simply saying, “first we find the father then we find the place.”
The comment resonated with me immediately. I have pondered on it for quite some time. I could not help but believe that often when we have found ourselves in a place of hopelessness, it is brought on by some experience of significant loss coupled with all-consuming fear. Many times, in these situations that are fueled by the unexpected loss and fear, our action is to run for safety, however we may define it.
The running is identified by our busy and frantic decisions. Perhaps the running is masking poor decisions such as jumping into shallow and often toxic relationships, habits, purchasing things we don’t need or can’t afford, preoccupying ourselves with unhealthy activities and attitudes, etc. We will often do whatever we can to flee the situation that has captured and entangled us. We are looking for that safe place, and yet the place that we think is safe may not actually be very safe.
Then we find the place
Reflecting on the notion that we must “first find the father then we will find the place,” has a profound godly truth embedded in it. The notion is that the father knows the place and only the father can take us there. Is this not true of our Heavenly Father? My human nature is vulnerable to loss, which we all experience, and I will often default to finding my “place” first. My sense is that the place that I find will protect me from loss and perhaps even restore the loss that I have experienced.
For example, we may have a dream that has fueled us for years and suddenly we experience a setback that closes that door permanently. The temptation may occur to revive the dream, ignore its demise or simply drift slowly to a life that is void of dreams… just to simply exist, the early stages of hopelessness. The three options can be toxic because we usually are not at our best immediately following a loss. We have all seen it, someone jumping into an unhealthy relationship, making a poor career choice, adopting poor habits etc., all in an effort to mask the loss and find that new place of safety, the place of purpose.
Perhaps God allows us to experience this loss because it can act as a catalyst for us to find Him, the Father. Perhaps as we run from the experience, frantically looking for the next “place,” God beckons us to Him. A dear friend of mine, Jason Upton, penned a worship song entitled, “God Finds Us,” and he has a line in the song that says, “We don’t find God, God finds Us, that’s the good news, that’s the good news.” Indeed, it is good news when God finds us…even when we are running. I am drawn to think of many before me that experienced a loss coupled with fear and started running to a place they thought would be safe only to be interrupted by a “good Samaritan” who suggested that the solution was to first find the Father. Perhaps think of Jonah running, Joseph reunited with his father, Jacob, Ruth following Naomi, and Jesus confessing in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will (to run) but Father, your will be done.”
We all experience loss, beyond our keys and wallet/purse. Loss is inevitable. The loss invokes fear that can grow into something that forever defines us, and we may ultimately experience a sense of hopelessness. However, if we find the Father then we will find the place, the place where there is peace, purpose, and all tears are wiped away. Today, I am compelled to utter a simple prayer, “Father, find me.”
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Read more articles by Stephan Tchividjian at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/stephan-tchividjian/