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Ungrieved Losses


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The God of Compassion


Do you have a story you long to read over and over? The story of God’s grace is like that for me. 


Over the last 7 years, my husband and I have facilitated The Grace Course at least ten times. I should be the most grace-filled person on the planet by now! Yet, as we began the course again in January, I knew there was more God wanted to do so that I might more fully receive his grace and extend it to others. 


It was time again to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


The first lesson in The Grace Course is on the glorious identity of our Father God. It seemed so familiar, one I could have easily passed over. I asked God to reveal the hidden things. “Lord, would you do laser surgery on me?” 


Nothing immediately impressed me. But during that week, I heard a pastor speak about being highly invested in the life of his unborn sibling. So much so that his life was greatly impacted when the baby passed from this life to the next soon after birth. The words pierce my soul as I realized that was my story too. My husband passed through the room as I was listening and said quietly, “That was you.” 


I knew her name, Elizabeth Ann. As my mom had passed through her later years, my sister and I had often half-jokingly said, “Sure wish Elizabeth Ann was here!” But this was different. I could imagine almost three-year-old me feeling the baby kick, seeing the bassinet set up in my parent’s room, and hearing the questions of kindhearted small-town folk about my soon-to-be status of big sister. And then the excitement of my mom going to the hospital. 


I never met Elizabeth Ann as her short life ended one day after she came into the world. 


The tears began to flow. I found her obituary which spoke of a grave-side service. Was I there? My sister located a picture of her in her beautiful white gown and a picture of the room in the church filled with flowers where her body lay.


Not long after, I found an article written by a believer on ungrieved losses. The words rang painfully true: “But if when you’re disappointed, hurt, or sad there is no one who moves toward you with empathy, then eventually you’ll shut down your emotions and needs, at least the deepest and truest ones. In the absence of empathy, repressing emotions becomes a habit that you’re not conscious of. Without realizing it, you’re putting your grief and sad emotions into your body. This causes things like tiredness, depression, angry reactions, unhealthy coping mechanisms like misusing alcohol, or physical illness, even terminal diseases.” 


Knowing the spiritual and emotional atmosphere of my home, I knew that I had never grieved her precious life. I needed to dig in with the God of compassion. 


So I asked the Lord, “Lord, what lies did I believe from this loss?” The answer came quickly and clearly. I believed that God was mean and that He took something that was meant to be a good and precious gift and snatched it away. It made perfect sense as I still to this day struggle with pop-up thoughts revolving around these lies. If something good is happening, something bad is around the corner. If I receive an unexpected monetary gift, perhaps a diagnosis of serious illness is on the horizon. If we are on a vacation, perhaps we will be in an accident. 


In The Grace Course, there is a renunciation of lies and a declaration of truth about our Father God. One of them states this: 

I renounce the lie that God is mean, cruel, or abusive. 

I announce the truth that you, Father God, are loving, gentle, and protective. 


“Lord, please remind me of this truth!” I prayed.

The truth that God was loving on that day in early June when my sweet sister, Elizabeth Ann, passed away. In fact, there is no greater love than the sacrifice of His Son. Giving of His very own life means that Elizabeth Ann is now in his presence. God was protective; she didn’t have to suffer long in this life. And He was gentle as He held her little life in His hands and walked her home to be with him. Because God is omnipresent, He was there at the gravesite. He wept too.


My Father God allowed me to know the reality of life and death at an early age. Then, He brought people into my life that shared the Gospel with me when I was a college student, so that I might choose life while I was young. One day He will make perfect sense of all things. And I will see my sweet little sister again in that marvellous day of heavenly reunions!




Sue Jantz
National Director of Prayer


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