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Finding Hope in Sorrow - 4 Insights from the BCUK Residential on Loss

Loss Is an Iceberg Word art by Roché Brook depicting loss as an iceberg
⭐️ Listen here or read below ⭐️

In March I attended the Biblical Counselling UK’s (BCUK) 2024 residential on “Loss - the hope of Christ in sorrow”.

It was excellent. Quality teaching and resources generously shared.

I don’t know about you, but at events like this I find myself trying to take everything in. I’m an avid note taker and have such good intentions about going through things afterwards but often don’t.

This time, in an effort to help myself, I asked the question “What 4 things struck me?”

And here is the answer - 4 things that have had me pondering and praying since the conference.

1. Loss Is An Iceberg Word

The image that kept coming into my mind at the conference was an iceberg.

Loss is such an iceberg word. Seemingly small on the surface and yet underneath it is vast, wide, deep and complicated.

During the conference, every time a word or phrase in some way captured or expressed what loss was like I voicenoted it to myself or jotted it down.

When I got home I drew this iceberg. The words under the surface are not an exhaustive list, I’m sure we can add more, but a concrete image like this helps me capture and understand that loss is complex. And that’s ok. I don’t need to ignore it or fear engaging with it.

2. Loss is Pervasive & Diverse

Loss affects everyone, everywhere.
Loss is diverse. There are many different types and experiences. It is widespread and permeating.

It’s something we all experience. Sometimes in similar ways, sometimes in very different ways. Some losses are seen, some unseen. Examples include loss of health, broken relationships, job loss, unmet expectations, unfulfilled dreams, broken trust, bereavement, failure, our own sin, being sinned against and so many others.

I love that the Bible speaks about this. Take for example Psalms, Job and Lamentations. These three books show the diverse experience of loss and the way in which the Lord invites our honest engagement with him. God gives the gift of lament. Of listening and speaking to the Lord.

So when I’m walking with people, or I’m sorrowful, I don’t need to try to box loss into a well defined, easy to understand package. Because that’s impossible. It’s also not something the Lord asks us to do. I can sit and listen. Talk and pray. Adapting as the moment calls for.

3. Getting Over/Moving On Are Very Unhelpful Phrases

We can unintentionally by our words and/or actions tell those who are grieving that they need to move on or get over it.

Perhaps we have a misguided idea of a timeline that we judge to be right or because it might be inconvenient or hard for us to sit in this sorrow with them. Or maybe we just feel very out of our depth and unsure how to love well.

But loss is not something that we check off a list or toddle on from. Loss is painful because a good thing is gone or has not happened. Let’s take bereavement as an example. If you lose someone you love dearly, wouldn’t it be strange to simply ‘move on’ from or ’get over’ them? To forget the existence of that image bearer who you loved. To erase them.

No. As we walk with the Lord, as he walks with us and holds us fast, in his grand redemption story he reframes, reshapes and includes our loss. It is part of the story that he is retelling now. And one day he will complete it perfectly, redeeming all that has been lost when we see him face to face.

4. Slow Down

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15.

I love this verse because it shows what it means to walk side by side. In loss, in sorrow, we can weep with those who weep (literally and figuratively).

As we’ve said, loss is complex. There’s often an ebb and flow. Emotions can be topsy-turvy or seemingly absent all in the space of a day. Or one experience/emotion can hang around for a long time. There’s no easy or magical stages to get through. No simple linear progression. And that is ok. We are complicated creatures.

We can slow down. We can sit with those in sorrow. Humbly. Sometimes silently, sometimes sharing, speaking, asking or praying.

There are SO many places throughout God’s word we could spend time in to consider this further but I’m going to go to suggest Ruth because that’s where we spent our time in the main talks at the conference.
[As a side note, my initial reaction to this being the book looked at during a conference on Loss was surprise because I’ve typically heard Ruth taught in one way (Boaz and Ruth, Jesus and his people) which of course is wonderful but isn’t it marvellous to think that the Lord has further and fuller riches for us to explore in these chapters, in his living and active word?]

The way in which the speakers used the lens of Ruth to look at loss was epic.
We slowed down and considered the 4 main characters Naomi, Ruth, Boaz and God. Their relationships and their experiences of loss.

And this story provided a rich and beautiful tapestry to explore. It blew my mind and I’d encourage you to listen to the audio which is freely available (see the link below).

I’ll conclude with a quote from the last talk that gives you a taste of the journey through Ruth:

“The Bible is the book that promises the loss of every good thing. I’m sorry. Everything. Because they aren’t weighty enough, substantive enough to carry the weight of your soul. They will pass away.

But the story of the Bible is the story of one who comes in carrying himself all your losses and pulling you through into glory. Walking tenderly with you along the way. Losses, yes. But gaining Christ and being found in him. Can we hope in that?”
Ste Casey

Further Resources

  • Free resources - BCUK has more resources freely available on this topic (including audio for the main talks from the conference) which you can find here - Resources from Loss: the hope of Christ in sorrow (March 2024).
  • Greeting cards to help you care for those who are hurting - in partnership with BCUK I created 3 hand lettered and illustrated compassion cards as one of the resources at the residential. These are available below for you to give or send to someone who is hurting.


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