When our children were young, it would frequently happen that one of them would construct very complex and impressive structures with toy building blocks.
Occasionally blessed with the privilege of joining them in their enterprises, I sometimes could personally witness them design and build some amazing things. While I didn’t always know what it was that I was looking at, my children were always able to come up with impressive titles and elaborate explanations.
Sometimes they showed me a skyscraper. Sometimes a spaceship. Sometimes it is the surface of a planet, and sometimes it is a creature that they created.
Whatever the case, it was a masterpiece each time. And invariably, at the insistence of the inventor/artist, each completed work was placed in a safe place so that the genius invested by its creator would be preserved (at least for awhile).
Sadly, sooner or later, each work meets its demise. Too often a finished piece is taken down and enjoyed as if it is a toy (which, of course, it is although its maker generally forgets that). I have noticed that toys of the Lego genre come apart most inconveniently.
On the other hand, sometimes the project was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone accidentally stepped on it, for example: Ouch! Sometimes it was innocently picked up and put away by a well-meaning parent: Oops! And sometimes a dog, wanting attention, would come and lie down on it or worse, chew it up: Eww!
The greatest heartaches always came, however, when an existing work contained a piece necessary for the building of another artist/inventor’s project. The currently existing work was dismantled, without regard for anyone else’s feelings but also without any particular mal-intent: it just happened to have a piece the other child wanted.
However these tragedies happened, the destruction of treasured creations always translated as anger and grief on the part of their creators (and then also for the parents trying to negotiate wisdom and cooperation among the young inventors).
It also meant something important for me and was something in which I still am growing in the context of God’s kingdom. When you lose what you thought you needed and wanted, for whatever reason, how do you begin again?
It is an important question for us as we each must deal with it in at least small ways (e.g., Lego blocks). But it is especially important when we deal with this issue on a grand scale. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the breaking of one’s health, can all leave us asking the question of how to start over.
Of course, this question has inconceivable implications for those in our world facing devastating loss in the face of persecution (such as that from ISIS), particularly those who have lost not only their homes and livelihoods but their entire families.
There are no easy answers. But if you are facing heart-breaking loss even now in your own life, there is life still yet to be lived. Granted, it won’t likely be the same as before, but there is still life … and hope for you if you’ll trust that God can and will walk with you through the dark tunnels of despair as you hold His hand in faith.
Consider the magnitude of Job’s loss and know indeed that you have a kindred spirit in him. Yet, in spite of all his sorrow and pain, he would not turn his back on God. In spite of the discouragement that buffeted him, he did not ultimately despair. Having lost his wealth, his beloved family, and his health, as well as being falsely accused by his “friends”, he ended up a shining example of God’s grace as God helped him start all over.
“If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You (God) would call, and I would answer You; you would long for the work (the created one) of Your hands. For then You would number my steps; You would not keep watch over my sin” (Job 14:14-16 ESV).
Can you start again when all of life as you’ve known it is lost or destroyed? Can you yet live again when tragedy and hurt come as robbers to take away your joy? Yes. There is One Who will see to it that renewal will come. And when God picks up the blocks of our broken lives, He can put them back together in ways we never imagined.
Starting over after loss and grief can seem impossible … but with God, it’s just a new beginning.
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.