When What Is Precious Is Taken from You

Perhaps the reality that is hardest of all to accept in life is the unalterable fact that everything that is precious to us will, in some way, eventually be taken away.

Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Our kids grow up and leave home, friends move away, loved ones die, we lose our health, and eventually, we die too. Moreover even what is precious to us in terms of our faith and values suffers in the same way: things change, thoughts and feelings shift, rock foundations that once anchored us unassailably give way, doubt creeps in, the bottom falls out, and we are left wondering what we really believe in and what really can be trusted.

Happily, this is only half the equation: Everything we lose is eventually given back to us, and in a deeper way. Our kids become wonderful adults who begin to parent us, new bonds of friendship form across distance, we reconnect in a deeper and more permanent way to our loved ones who have died, we find something deeper and more permanent than physical health, death opens us up to the infinite, and the bottom falling out of old beliefs sends us free-falling to a place where we land on bedrock, on a foundation so secure that it can never be shaken again.

We see the pattern for this in scripture in the story of the Jewish community and the Babylonian exile. After arriving in Palestine (“the Promised Land”) it took a number of generations to establish control over the land, unite all the various tribes into one nation, and build a temple in Jerusalem as center for worship.

But then the Assyrians came and conquered the land, deported all the people to Babylon, killed the king, and knocked down the temple to its last stone. With that, the loss of land, king, and temple, the bottom fell out of their world, religiously and literally. How to you continue to believe, trust, and live in joy when all that once anchored these has been taken from you?

God’s answer was this: You will find me again, when you search for me in a deeper way, with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole soul.

God gives us that same answer today whenever we feel betrayed, orphaned, and disoriented in this same way.

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