STANDING IN THE FLAMES: Surviving the Pain of Loss

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I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

The pain of loss can feel like a consuming fire. It burns through everything that made the relationship with our loved one joyous and meaningful. When my Dad died, my whole world felt like a giant bonfire of grief.

His life was woven through every aspect of mine. Every day was a fresh reminder of my loss. A song would play that reminded me of him and the tears would flow. I would need advice and catch myself picking up the phone to call him, only to remember that there is no phone made that would reach him. Activities that used to bring me joy like; looking at family photos, playing cribbage or going out for coffee, became painful reminders of my loss. His birthday and holidays were especially hard reminders of his absence.  

Eventually the pain of loss burns off and is replaced by the warm embers of the love we shared. But how do we survive the flames in the meantime? If grief enables us to get from the pain of loss to a place where we can cherish the memory of our loved ones, how do we stand in the flames without being consumed? When the flames of my recent loss threaten to overwhelm me, I remind myself that others have faced the flames and survived.

When he was King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar built a 90-foot idol. He commanded that all people should fall down and worship his idol. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to submit because they were committed to worshiping God alone. Nebuchadnezzar warned “if you do not worship, you shall be cast at once into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who can deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood fast in their refusal. So Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they be thrown into a furnace so hot that it killed the soldiers who brought them to the entrance. Yet, when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the flames, instead of seeing three men burning to death, he saw four men “walking in the mists of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the fourth is like the Son of God!” (Daniel 3:25)

The pain of loss boasts that there is none who can deliver us from its consuming fire. Yet, just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t need to fear Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath, we needn’t fear the pain of loss. When the death of a loved one threatens to cast us into the furnace, we can be certain of two things; the flames will not consume us and we will not be in the furnace alone! Jesus is in the fire with us, protecting and preserving us through the flames!

Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 AMP)

That truly means wherever we go! Even through the flames of loss, God is walking right beside us like a shepherd guiding and protecting His sheep from all harm. He will guide us safely through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’ I used to think that just meant that God is with us when we are facing our own death. What I have come to understand is that God is with us whenever death appears on our horizon. He is with us in the valley of the shadow of death when that shadow is a negative diagnosis. He is with us at the bedside of a dying friend. He is with us when a loved one takes their own life. He is beside us when the valley we are traveling through is grieving for a loved one who has passed from this world to the next.

As we stand in the flames of the pain of loss, He is the shield that preserves us until those flames burn down and our memories become the embers that warm our hearts with the love of the person who has passed on. So be strong and courageous in the midst of the pain of loss. Do not be dismayed because we are not facing that pain alone. The God who cares for us affectionately and cares about us watchfully will cover us with His wing until the flames die down, because they WILL die down! God is with us every step of the way through that valley of the shadow of death. Be assured, we will travel safely through the flames.

© TamellaWhite 2020