June 20, 2016

The hymns, Amazing Grace by John Newton and All is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford were not born of glorious inspiration or written in an attempt to become famous. On one level, I suspect that either man would gladly have sung the hymns from anyone else’s pen but their own—even though the hymns are two of the most oft repeated songs in history.

    The hymns were inspired through devastating loss and the pain that followed. You can look up the histories of John Newton and Horatio Spafford to see how personal the words were to their experiences of loss, tragedy, devastation, and to their experiences of God’s faithfulness. Each man knew, as genuine witnesses, that life is tragic and God is faithful. In their willingness to struggle and then offer their struggle to others, one individual at a time has been blessed, to the summation of millions.  

    The price a person pays to be a blessing in another person’s life can be very high. The blessing to another is often birthed in loss.  Only those who know loss and have persevered through the grace of God and/or the mercy of others can sit with another person in darkness. And then walk with them back into the light when they are ready.  

    Many people think that they have not experienced enough loss to be a blessing. That is never true. What is often true is that we minimize our losses to avoid facing them. We do so by measuring them against someone else’s loss. Measuring often minimizes personal pain as not sufficient to matter to our own or another person’s heart. Minimization can also block us from experiencing the gratitude of avoiding losses that we have seen others have to go through. I am grateful that I am not John Newton or Horatio Spafford. However, their words remind me of what I have received in facing loss, facing need, and facing the courage to persevere.

    If you are alive, and if you continue to carry hope as something you have never been able to rid yourself of, you have suffered loss and persevered. You have kept living until you felt alive again. If you look closely at your experience, you may note that the grace of God was near you and/or the mercy of another person’s aid was near you. Anyone who has sat with you in darkness until you were ready to walk back into the light of hope has known darkness themselves—whether they fully recognize it or not. Their loss became your gift. They had to pay to be a blessing in your life. They wish to be a blessing in your life, even as they wish the loss in their own lives had never occurred.

     Everyone is created to be that gift—if we but face our own lives. We are not created to get over life. We are created to persevere through life, and we cannot do so without the gifts of courageous people sharing those gifts—the ones most often, sadly, born in loss. And others need our gifts, born, sadly, in that same ocean of loss.