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05 - How to Deal with Suffering and Loss

Frank Hasel Esther Louw

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Frank Hasel shares his experience of losing his wife and why he believes we encounter suffering in our lives. In a personal way, he explains how the Christian can respond to loss and provides practical advice for helping others who are going through a time of tragedy.

Recorded

  • April 25, 2019
    11:39 AM
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Copyright ©2019 Generation of Youth for Christ.

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Have you ever wondered why God has allowed to experience suffering and luck Hi I'm just too low and you're listening to learn to use our podcast in today's episode and as this question from is about. The happy Frank who preceded it I started off with finding out a little bit about yourself before we go into more of our topic today who are you where you come from sure. I'm originally from in Germany and I was born and raised in Germany my parents are 7th Day Adventists I grew up in a Christian home and. I. Did my high school in Germany and some of my college days you know in Germany and England and the United States you know and I work as a pastor that's just great to get a picture of who you are so it sounds like you've got a very kind of diverse background you've lived in many different countries and your experiences covered several continents. Coming to our topic today which is in a dealing with difficulties and challenges that come along in life but some experiences that have happened in your life that a personal God taught you how to go through difficulty and hard times well that's a good question it's not so easily answered. But let me start by saying that I believe life is good and I believe I firmly believe that God is good for that matter but not everything in life is smooth sailing so to speak so that there are instances in life in and I think that's the experience of every one of us where challenges SMOUT and where difficulties start and even evil things happen you know and sometimes they lead to rather difficult circumstances and experiences where. These evil things and of these bad things in life they have the potential of even destroying your faith so that you can go ship wreck yeah and. If I look at my my life I was blessed with a very happy childhood and I have very good memories of the outer eye course there are challenges in your studies in your personal life but the real challenge for me in the most recent past has been. A challenge of significant loss when I lost my wife she had breast cancer and didn't survive and she died and that has been a challenge and that is not easy now coping. So. Yeah that that really is a very painful full experience and. You know. Fortunately I have to say that. God has helped me through. And with the help of many other people. You really appreciate acts of friendliness and kindness much more when you experience something like that too so. Yeah there are many things many aspects that I could talk about right now will get into those as they go along. But it to me it sounds like this is a problem the problem of pain I guess you could call it and and difficulty in life. Is one that's it's personal for you but it's also something that eventually in everybody's eyes I experience right it's right. So coming back to you know he said a lot of people have a Schipperke of faith and they go 3 explains it like this why does God in your opinion allow really difficult times if he is a God of love why do we go through these things yes. Well if I were God I could give you an answer to the. The typical question that arises in a situation like that I've had those questions other people have those questions are those why questions why did that happen why does that happen to me why why why why these questions are difficult to answer. Because we don't know all the details and all of the background information that God has available and so sometimes there are things in life that for which we have no good explanation or they just occur they happen and you do not really know. And. The interesting thing in our experience has been that we have raised our own set of why questions for instance we need to be we raise the questions why shouldn't it happen to us yes why only to other people why should we be affected by evil in this world since we live in a world that is not perfect that is affected by sin so why should all the other people suffer and die and have cancer and most of life and and. So. We we we firmly believe that as Christians yes there are certain blessings that go along with a Christian Biblical lifestyle you know brief experience and but it's not a. Something that wall saves you from every difficulty right and every pain and we are in this world and we experience something that other people experience as well so why did that happen why did God permit that to happen I don't know. Sometimes things happen and we don't have any easy answer to that. And sometimes we attempted to because it's not easy to to live with open questions like that and so people try to find an answer that will justify what has happened in the end they come up with the strangest instructions I'll give you an example because sometimes people would say in order to comfort me. They would say well God Maybe. Permitted that to happen because it will help you and teach you to be more sympathetic with other people that you have experienced different losses or things like that you know right and yes that certainly might be a reason why this could have happened to me it was not a convincing reason I mean if he wanted me to teach anything he could have at a 1000 other ways to teach me that lesson. That he didn't need to do it that way but it clearly and there are there are other good advice as you know that you're here and that you have to deal with all well meant but not all that helpful and right particular situation like that so. We live in an imperfect world we live in a sinful world and sometimes things happen for which we have no good explanation the challenge for us is I think as Christians in the challenge has been for me is. Even though you cannot explain everything even though you don't have an answer to every question you have do you still trust God. Do you still believe that he is a good God you see and hear I find that many people have a wrong understanding a wrong concept of God and and his nature and his the way he deals with us and and I personally believe and that really has helped me that God is good all the time all the time God is good now do you really believe. Do you really believe that most people would say yes but then do you really believe that God is 100 percent through and through nothing but good from to Z. from beginning to end from top to toe nothing but good there is not a shadow of you know do you really believe that or do you believe what most people believe they would say oh yes I have no doubts God is good in fact they would say he is very good. In fact he is very good very often but not always see that's what most people think if you think that way that you and you think God is good he's very good very good very often but not always how can you trust a God. That is not always good. And then the Immediately you have to raise the why question in right order to find a reason and the rationale for why this or that happened and only after you're satisfied with an answer like that will you be willing to trust him but that's not the way it works. And so. But the big question is. Do you really believe that God is good. Even though you can't explain everything in life that happens to you. I think we have plenty of reasons plenty of reasons to believe that God is good he has demonstrated that through His Son Jesus Christ and. Even though I don't have every answer to every question I know the one who hands and I trust the one who has you know in his own due time he might tell me something and maybe even later I might reveal something to me that is beyond my understanding and beyond my comprehension. Basically then it's really come to the root of the problem of what we believe about God or us and whether we believe that he has a best in mind and this comes to another question that I have and I've had this question asked of me over the years and I used to ask is myself does every thing that happen in our allies happen because God made it happen so therefore is there always a purpose for us upbringing or is some of it just I guess collateral damage of war that we live in well that's a very complex question that you raise here. In a sense yes and in the sense you know. That's a clear answer Right right I don't believe in predestination in the sense that there are predestines and bring to terms every single act and thing that occurs in your life I think he has created as human beings in such a way that we have free choice we can make decisions even decisions that he doesn't like and approve. But then he is still suffering. And even though we make decisions that might be even wrong. He still has his own ways to use them out for his own glory if we permit him. So. Does everything that happened happen at his command no I don't think so. Because he doesn't delight in in evil things doesn't delight in pain and suffering. But he can still use them for his and glory and if we permit him to to be the Lord in our lives. And sometimes we have to learn to wait. You know we often are impatient and we do and if you're like me you don't like to to wait you know you're going to you know what to accomplish and what time and where to get it the fastest done and so we think waiting is. Is a detour is not necessary. But maybe maybe God wants me to learn something and maybe God wants me to become the person he wants me to be that I would never be without the experience of women without the experience of going through some painful things not the T.V. lights in that but he can use even that evil things in life to bring out something good in the end is it fair to say that God doesn't necessarily cause every experience of it go through but he doesn't waste our experiences Oh he is not a wasteful God and you know that's very encouraging and encouraging to me that even if I went through an experience that was discouraging and difficult he's going to use that to grow me yes in fact if I may just add another thought you know. The way the Bible explains how this life on on this earth came about through a creator god is so completely. Contrary And in contrast to the evolutionary idea of a very basic full process of making life possible right if you look at evolution it's a very useful I mean millions and millions of us of a species you know have to die in order to evolve to a higher level of consciousness even and abilities and this kind of God is is not the kind of God that you find in the Bible it's not a God of compassion and love it's not a god that is really adorable it's not a it's not a God worthy of our adoration you know praise it's an utterly vest for process you know if it To think that God would even use the process in the mechanism of evolution. To produce something beautiful is so contrary to me the Bible teaches us. It just doesn't fit together so that's a just a little footnote on what you said I don't think God is wasteful at all uses whatever you just create it very effectively and I mean from you know the concept now talking about actually going through the experience of loss and every person has their own pain and then gone through what is the Christian way to deal with it and we allow to get angry with God How do we express our feelings and yes how can we go through that process good question I think. For one thing. Every person experiences loss differently and goes through a loss in a different experience so I know I should not make my own experience with loss the norm for how other people have you deal with it. And how do we express our emotions I think. We should be honest with ourselves and I think we have to be honest enough to say that this is not a nice feeling. And it is it is alright to be even angry even be angry at God He is not taken aback of that because he has experienced that himself you know he knows the experience of loss he knows how we feel about it. And if you read the Psalms. You find that David and other writers they did not hold back they express their strong emotions in their strong feelings even about things that went not well that were evil and they expressed that even in words that are too harsh for our ears right and then the same the same David to show really curses. In his fury it curses his enemies he says but search me or Lord and see see my how how I mean it in my heart you know and give me a new heart so it's not wrong to be angry it's not wrong to have strong feelings in fact I think it is important that we are able to express that and even as a man to cry. Even Jesus cried Yeah. It's not wrong to do that but God can help us to deal even with those things you know and help us to not get stuck in any negative feelings right so that we are just revolving up around ourselves rather than seeing any hope or any any new perspective yes so how do we actually break that cycle because sometimes when re-expressing our feelings it's easy to go into that I call the pity party mass where you keep thinking about the bad things that happen to you and how bad you feel about them and lose sight of God and faith in him so how do we make that transition. I wish I could give an answer for every situation but I don't but but there's one thing that really was helpful for me how do you develop an attitude of gratitude How do you to gain a new perspective on things if you don't just feel like being grateful at all because if you're experiencing the thickened loss not just through death but through through other things you know if you're a young person and you have an accident and one of your legs is and potatoes and at last you know you go through a significant loss it changes the direction of your life your career and other things so if you're in a situation like that where you experience a loss you don't feel grateful and you feel you feel envious of people who can do things that you no longer can and. You know so what has helped me is a very simple strategy that is so powerful and effective it has just one drawback it's absolutely free this impacts you a penny and that's why many people don't give it a try and end it it works like this. Take a piece of paper sheet of paper. And a pencil and write down 10 things 10 items for which you're grateful for. As a simple just one word. Now if you're in a situation like that you don't even come up with 5 or a or 3 you don't even think about it really requires determent thinking. 2 to think about things for which you can be grateful it can be simple things like a tooth brush. You know it just imagine how how you are that smell what. And you have that or if you have a bed where it where you can see can sleep or you have a house and and your shelter it and. You have hands with which you can touch another person and you can open a book you can do things so you write down 10 words and then the next step is with every single word you form a short sentence and in that sentence you express your thankfulness your gratefulness for that particular thing so you would say you have the word hand and you would say I'm grateful that I have hands 2 hands for that matter with whom I can write a letter or touch a person or play my music instrument or whatever you do with your hands and you form a whole sentence and then. You speak out loud loud means that you can hear yourself speaking that sentence you speak out loud that sentence you say I'm grateful I'm thankful that I have hands to play my PM points. Now the more of your 6 senses are involved seeing your right touching you do it you know hearing speaking the more deeply ingrained will be that idea that thankfulness and you go through every of those 10 things 10 sentences you speak them aloud the next day you repeat that procedure and you choose 10 new thing you think that you are grateful for and if you want to intensify that experience you will repeat the 10 things from the previous day. At the end of just one week you have 70 reasons for which you're grateful. And it just does something to you you cannot practice them and remain I'm grateful. The more you think the more you discover the more you are I see things that your formally are blind to. It it it changes your whole direction it changes your attitude it changes your perspective and you gain a new horizon of things that formerly you were close to because you're just so consumed with that pain and that loss and the things you can't do anymore that you you lose sight of the things that you are still able to do and and Europe capable of doing and so it gives you a new perspective and it changes the whole entire outlook and it has revolution. My my life and I know the life of many other people who've tried it and it's just 11 little exercise that can help to gain a new perspective if even even if you don't feel like it that's very powerful and you know it reminds me of a lot of David songs where he does go into praising the Lord and thinking of the things that God's done for him yes just changing a focus a little bit here what about those of us who might have friends who are going through a loss how can we support those people and know that you mentioned you know people saying things to you that well meant that probably heard full. How do we avoid doing that help well yeah usually when you have a friend or a person that you know who goes through something like that you know you feel insecure you don't know what to say and usually the reaction is I'd rather say nothing then remind them of something painful and. And that is not the most helpful thing in my experience the most helpful thing in dealing with the loss of my wife has not been any religious. Perspective of I will see her again in heaven and so forth that was not helpful to me it was not comforting because I felt her. Missing a coat feel like acutely in the NOW HERE and NOW So any any future consolation you know was not really helping me in or in my feeling of loss but what helped me is when people took the time. To tell me or write me. A little incidents and little experience that they had with my wife where she remembered where they remembered every tour you know and the. Circumstances little stories where she was helpful in the life of another person receiving made an impact on another person where she was remembered positively and the lives of other people and that really really was very comforting for me to deal with the loss because. There is an Irish proverb that I once heard that goes something like this death leaves a sorrow no one can hear. The Love creates a memory no one can steal you know you know being remembered of something being out of love has created a memory that stays with you something for which you're grateful for common thing that was created out of love that is very comforting and so to remind people about them to talk about things that you appreciate about them. Things that you like about that person I think any person is is more than eager to hear that and will be comforted in hearing and. So that has been helpful for me too so that is something I would say to people so what can you say yeah try to have to find something the out that you're remember about the person that you do see it and express that and it will be a. He She and it's great. Like one thing I notice about that is that in a way that's bring the person that you lost back into the present. And so it does something in the present rather than pushing it off to the future it's right okey ping it head into the past. What about losses that are in a negative like divorce or or something else that the memory is not a good memory. It but everything has to come to a closure right if you keep it constantly open it will never close you know that you had it you will never be able to go beyond that I think we have to learn. Yes there are losses in life and they are painful experiences and there are things that. That will stay with me as a consequence or some of these decisions. But still I have to come to a point where I say well I have to take responsibility for whatever responsibility I need to take and you know if this has been in the past and now I'm ready to move on for something new that I will be able with God's grace to develop in the future and this can happen no matter whether you've lost somebody or whether you went through a loss through a divorce or some other things. He's so much for time just as a close looking back on what we've talked about really here that emotional healing through pain has to do a lot with a trust in God What we believe about him the gratitude though we develop and express and also learning ourselves to come to. Thank you so much appreciate that you're able to share with us from our pleasure. Thanks for listening don't forget to head to scribe and check this episode with your friends from to learn more check us out at learn and share podcast dot com.

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