The entire Christian dynamic is one of loss and gain. As Christians, we are constantly called to give certain things up – to lose them. But that loss is only part of the story, for Jesus steps into whatever gap is left by that which we let go for His sake and fills it up. Consider the great call of discipleship Jesus gave in Luke 9:
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
There are many things we can take from this verse, but chief among them is that the road of following Jesus is fundamentally about self-denial. We are, in our sin, worshippers of ourselves. We have become our own gods, choosing whatever way seems best and most advantageous to us at a given moment. And to follow Jesus means rejecting this kind of self-lordship. It means losing our lives. But lest we think that Jesus is anti-personal fulfillment, we need only keep reading to what He said next:
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it.”
Jesus is not saying that self-denial is the end; He’s saying that it’s the beginning. Jesus is not anti-self-fulfillment – He just knows that true fulfillment only comes on the other side of self-denial. This is the most ironic reason of all that we must be loud and proud about the road of self-denial – it’s because only through denying ourselves that we fund our true selves.
See it? Loss and gain. Loss and gain. Loss and gain – over and over again.
And so it is with what is happening in our world right now. We have lost, are losing, and will continue to lose. I am fortunate enough to be writing this from the perspective of light loss. I haven’t had a business go under. I have not seen any relatives or close friends become sick as of yet. So my experience of loss is strictly, at this point, in terms of the loss of normalcy. It’s certainly the lightest level of loss among the world community, and yet it is loss all the same.
It’s the loss of going places. Of doing things. Of being on the run. Of living an activity-based life.
But as is the case in the whole of the Christian life, with this loss there is an accompanying gain. And with every passing day, I feel it a bit more acutely, and maybe you do as well. What is that accompanying gain? It’s far too early to make any definite pronouncements on that. But for now, at least there is this:
It seems like we are rediscovering home in the midst of COVID-19.
“Home” has always had a special meaning for people; it was the place you generally slept; the place where you generally felt safe; the place where you could mostly be yourself. But now it has become something different. “Home” is no longer the place you leave to go out and conduct life. It is, instead, the singular place. And in this singular place, it is as if a gigantic “reset” button is being pushed on our lives.
There aren’t any travel ball teams. There aren’t any dance recitals. There aren’t any teacher meetings. There aren’t any plans with friends or date nights to restaurants. There is just home. And in that, there is loss. But perhaps (and I hope I’m not being too presumptuous in this) there is also an element of gain. Yes, we have lost all those things, but we have gained jigsaw puzzles. And family movie nights. And walks in the neighborhood. And three meals together. We are at home, and we are together.
Loss and gain. Loss and gain.
We must be very careful here not to trivialize all that has been, is being, and yet will be lost. Those losses are and will be great. But loss and gain can co-exist together, just as hope and sadness can co-exist together. Just as hope does not make the sadness go away, neither does the gain make the loss any less severe. It only gives us things we can rejoice inside of, even while feeling the pain of loss.
And perhaps here is one small element of the gain we can take hold of, all the while weeping together and walking through the loss together:
Home. Home rediscovered.