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Enlarge Your Soul through Grief and Loss

Enlarge Your Soul through Grief and Loss

Enlarge Your Soul through Grief and Loss

Loss is a place where self-knowledge and powerful transformation can happen. Paying attention to our losses enlarges our souls — when we pour them out before the Lord (see Psalm 62:8) and participate in what God wants to do in us.

We all face many “deaths” within our lives. Our culture routinely interprets these losses and griefs as alien invasions and interruptions to our “normal” lives. The choice is whether these deaths will be terminal (crushing our spirit and life) or will open us up to new possibilities and depths of transformation in Christ. Staying with Jesus during these challenging times — remaining, abiding, communing with Him — makes all the difference.


Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:36-39

Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then Je said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”

Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”


In the garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus troubled and overwhelmed with sorrow — to the point of death. We see Him falling with His face to the ground and praying three times. We also see the Father say no to Jesus’ request that the cup be taken away from Him.

We want to follow Jesus into the abundant life of resurrection, but we are less than enthusiastic about following Him into the garden of Gethsemane.

Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff, is a record of the author’s reflections and struggles following the death of his twenty-five-year-old son, Eric, in an Austrian mountain-climbing accident. Wolterstorff doesn’t have any explanations or answers for why God would have allowed such a tragedy. Who does? At one point, however, he comes upon a profound insight:

Through the prism of my tears I have seen a suffering God. It is said of God that no one can behold His face and live. I always thought this meant that no one can see His splendor and live. A friend said perhaps this meant that no one could see His sorrow and live. Or perhaps His sorrow is splendor.(1)

Question to Consider

What does it mean for you to pray, “Yet not as I will, but as You will”?


Lord, everything in me resists following You into the garden of Gethsemane to fall on my face to the ground before You. Grant me the courage to follow You all the way to the Cross, whatever that might mean for my life. And then, by Your grace, lead me to resurrection life and power. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading: Job 2:7-10

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.


Jonathan Edwards, in a famous sermon on the book of Job, noted that the story of Job is the story of us all. Job lost everything in one day: his family, his wealth, and his health. Most of us experience our losses more slowly — over the span of a lifetime — until we find ourselves on the door of death, leaving everything behind.(2)

Catastrophic loss by definition precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same. There is no going back to the past….

It is not therefore true that we become less through loss — unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left… Loss can also make us more…

I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, until it became part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it…

One learns the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain, by turning inside oneself, by finding one’s own soul… However painful, sorrow is good for the soul…

The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering.

~ Jerry Sittser(3)

How can you see God enlarging your soul through your losses?


Father, when I think about my losses, it can feel like I have no skin to protect me. I feel raw, scraped to the bone. Looking at Job and Jesus helps, but I must admit that I struggle to see something new being birthed out of the old. Enlarge my soul through the trials and losses of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

  1. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 81.
  2. Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, 136.
  3. Gerald L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 39, 44, 61 (cf. p. 37).

Excerpted with permission from Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day by Peter Scazzero, copyright Peter Scazzero.

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Your Turn

In this middle of suffering, stay with Jesus. Let’s pray for healing, for release, for help, but also “not as I will, but as You will.” Come share your thoughts on growing through grief on our blog. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily