Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Peak into our Journey of Loss

Written by Eli

How do you deal with it all?  Loss.  Grief.  Sorrow.  Our family is struggling with leaving South Sudan.  We realize that we are not alone.  So many people have suffered or are in the midst of suffering from loss.  Each one of our family is processing the loss of team, friends, home, ministry and dreams in their own way.  

Here are some of our reflections and things that have helped us through this time.  

     Expressing my Doubts to God
Psalm 73 has been powerful in my life these past few months. Asaph admits his doubts and near hopelessness as he looks at what is going on in the world. His words reflect my own doubts and struggles.
Psalm 73 ends with a declaration of hope in the Lord who holds eternity in his hand. It is a declaration of faith...something hoped for but not yet seen.  Our hope in Christ is sure.

What is this thing called grief?

Our family has learned a lot about the process and mechanics of grief through this clever story.  It has been very useful to help our kids to make sense of the sadness in their hearts and how they can deal with it.

Processing Together

How do you walk through the grief cycle with your kids?  We used this book for devotions for a while and it helped our boys understand that loss is part of everyone's life and it relates the grief cycle as moving from village to village, something our family could relate to.  

Being Self-focused

Oh man, this has been hard. We knew we needed to just hide away for a time and just be together as a family.  But how could we be so selfish?  We have been stretched in the number of times we said 'no', left things undone, and were focused on our needs...for a time.  

Peeling the Onion

A few of us in our family are going to professional counseling.  We need to peel back the cover of our daily lives to get down to the feelings and emotions that lie a little deeper inside.  We need to let the tears flow and process what is going on in our hearts.  I believe the LORD uses everything in his economy.  I know he will use what we have gone through for his kingdom.  We want to grow through this so that, "being comforted, we can better comfort others" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Rejoicing in Victories

Our teammates in South Sudan are witnessing unbelievable growth in numbers, depth in faith, and witness by believers to the communities around them.  
Here is a picture of the JumJum church which has doubled in size since the fighting at Christmas.  The believers from different tribes are visiting each other despite continuing tribal conflict.  

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together by [Tippetts, Kara, Buteyn, Jill Lynn]

The Comfort of the Body of Christ

Bethany has enjoyed reading this book.  The premise is that often we shy away from people who are suffering because we cannot relate or we don't know what to say.  This book encourages to simply be present.  We have felt the loving hugs of so many people over these past months.  The body of Christ has prayed for us faithfully.  We have had 2 vans donated to us.  Many people have given financial gifts to us.
Our home church stocked our kitchen shelves and helped us move in to our home.  A friend helped fund-raise so that our children could attend a Christian School this year.  We were able to cross the United States by car and were welcomed in many, many homes. What a blessing to be a part of the body of Christ!  We have been greatly comforted by the presence of others.

Loss is not something you "get over".  It becomes part of you and your story.  It is not about getting over it but rather allowing it to make you a better person.  We are by no means over our issues but we are on the right road of growing through it.  We hold on to the truth that nothing is in vain.  There is a purpose, albeit often hidden, to the hills and valleys, sun and storms of this life.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:12-13

So we are holding on to the promise that His glory will be revealed...through this journey and because of this journey of grief and loss.