Loved but not lost

by Stan Mitchell

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, ESV).

The poet A.H. Tennyson had lost a dear friend when he wrote “In Memoriam.”

The poem traces his struggle with suffering, death and faith in God. Our loss is real, and our questioning of God is legitimate, but look for a moment at what he says about the balance of having loved and lost:

I hold it true, whate’re befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most,
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Yes! You miss that one whom you loved. But what if you had never known that person, never seen his or her compassion, sense of humor, or felt their touch or their love? What if you had never known and loved that person?

You would have been far, far more impoverished!

I sometimes catch myself doing something and wondering what my mother, Donna Mitchell, would have thought. I miss her.

But what if my father had been a single father raising four kids? With no disrespect to him, we all would have been much less than we are now! As children we were immeasurably blessed to have had her strong, quiet influence.

I think of my eighteen-year-old friend Paul Robinson, struck down in a motorbike accident. He was a year older than I, a Christian of barely six months (thankfully).

It seems sad to think of a life struck down so soon, but I’m glad I knew him, and I’ll never forget the freshness of a new Christian discovering spiritual truths for the first time. He was zealous and warm and an encouragement to those of us who had grown up in the church.

My point is this: Though all of us will die one day, and though each of us will lose friends and loved ones to death in the meantime, the gift is that God gave us life, and that we can learn to love and appreciate those around us.

Thank God for the good people whom you have loved and lost. Also thank God for those who are still around you, and take the opportunity to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.

The tragedy is not losing a friend to death; the tragedy is losing the chance to express your appreciation for them while it will still do them good!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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2 thoughts on “Loved but not lost

  1. Thank you, brother Mitchell, for this outstanding article. I shared it with some grieving friends. You have become one of my favorite writers! Thanks for sharing your insights from God’s Word.

  2. Thank you Bro. Sargent. Writing – and being read – is a profound responsibility and privilege. My prayer is that it was of assistance to your friend.

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