Friend, do you wonder what to do when we long for things we’ve lost?
Lately, I came across a term used in the Portuguese folk culture. It is called “saudade”, meaning a deep emotional state of melancholia and longing for a person or thing that is absent. This term is very fitting for my emotional state in the months and years following the unexpected loss of my husband of 15 years.
Every day, multiple triggers unleash this strong longing, magnifying the loss of my closest person and all other connected losses. I would see a photo, walk in the shop and see his favorite drink, or glimpse a pair walking hand in hand, and the pain would stab my stomach like a sharp knife. I would dream in the night about him and would wake up with this strong longing and just one wish: to have my old life back, to have my family and my husband again!
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When We Long for Things We’ve Lost
Friend, if you have lost something precious in your life, a thing, a relationship, a person you have loved, or your normal life because of the pandemic, then most probably you also long for the presence of what is lost. This longing is an inseparable part of grief. How can we best handle it?
My grief journey propelled me closer to the heart of God, yearning to hear from Him what to do with my “saudade”, and how to express my painful feelings and move forward. God has been faithful to talk to me through His word and to provide a way out.My grief journey propelled me closer to the heart of God, yearning to hear from Him what to do with my longing, and how to express my painful feelings and move forward. #grief #longing #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Several Truths about Our Suffering
He drew my attention first to some basic truths about the suffering and struggle we all experience. Meditating on these truths helped me change my perspective and to trust that my grief and longing are not meaningless, but have a powerful purpose and meaning. Let’s ponder together some of these truths.
#1 Suffering is not something extraordinary; it is rather normal. We should not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on us to test us, as though something strange was happening to us. (1 Peter 4:12)
#2 Suffering is an occasion for joy because we have fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. It is not something to avoid, but a privilege and a way to take part in the glory of Christ. (1 Peter 4:13)
#3 Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)
#4 We are to cast all our anxiety on Him and turn every concern, worry, and pain into prayer. (1 Peter 5:7)
#5 God will use the suffering to restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)Suffering is not something to avoid, but a privilege and a way to take part in the glory of Christ. #suffering #encouragement #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Expressing Our Painful Feelings of Longing
Next, through the story of Job, God showed me how to express my painful feeling of longing and clothe them with words.
First, God tenderly invites us to state our case before Him and wait for His answer. (Job 23:4-5)
He also encourages us to stay confident that He knows the way that we take and after He has tested us, we will come forth like gold. (Job 23:10)
God also invites us to lament by pouring out our longing for what we’ve lost and anguish to Him. Job chapter 29 is a perfect example of such a lament. “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness!” (Job 29:2-3)
God wants it all. He wants our longing, our pain, and our anguish. He gives us words to clothe and express these feelings and He promises meaning, purpose, redemption, and restoration.
Yielding to God’s Presence in Our Longing
So next time when you feel this strong longing and melancholia about things and persons you have lost, remember that your suffering is not in vain and pour it all out to God, our closest friend, and lover of our souls.
He sees and hears us, He feels our pain, He understands. God is there for us. He is there for you.
More Encouragement and Comfort for You
If you need more resources to encourage and comfort you in your painful longing, I can highly recommend these books. Check them out.
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry L. Sittser
A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life by Jerry L. Sittser
Restoration Year – a 365 Days Devotional by John Eldredge
All Things New by John Eldredge
It’s not supposed to Be This Way by Lisa Terkeurst
Grieving the Write Way Journal and Workbook by Gary Roe
Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg
Hope When Life Unravels: Finding God When It Hurts by Adam Dooley
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