Stonebridge Church voted unanimously in favor of placing a bid to purchase a recently vacated church building in our area. (We’ve been renting facilities and looking on and off over the years, but in recent months found something we could get excited about.)
However, we learned later in the week that our bid was not accepted. I felt quite a range of emotions beginning that evening and over the next couple weeks that mimic the typical stages of grief or loss. First came disbelief and denial. I truly thought the person who had given me the news was kidding! But when he didn’t laugh I realized it was true. My next reaction was initial acceptance, but over the next few days came some sadness and questioning, disappointment that all our work had been for naught and wondering what we might have done differently to change the result. This was followed by some anger, assigning blame to the sellers for rejecting our offer and choosing someone else over us. Next came some mild depression, feeling low and reflective and a little isolated.
Finally, after some more time, however, this was replaced with acceptance and renewed hope, believing that God must have something else in mind for us and that He may even be protecting us from some unforeseen eventuality connected with that particular property. Perhaps the purpose of this experience was to teach us some lessons we will need later. Perhaps another property will arise in a different location that is better suited to God’s purposes for us. Or perhaps He intends for us to stay where we are for now and to renew our efforts to make the best use of our current location.
Certainly this was a temporary and small, yet very real loss. I’m not sure what others felt, but this was my experience. The Bible is filled with stories of grief and loss, so I am not the first to have this experience. Grieving losses is part of being human. Jesus himself wept after he heard the news of his friend Lazarus’ death, and he felt disappointment when his disciples could not stay awake to watch with him for even one hour on the last night of his life.
Yet, because Jesus knew his Father’s plan, though not every detail of it, he could accept God’s will and move forward in faith and obedience to fulfill what he had been called to do. Neither do we know all the details of God’s plan for us – whether or not we will find another building or how long it will take – but by faith in Christ, we are seeking to go forward together in obedience to fulfill our calling as his church in the world.