Title: Gaining in Losing
Verse: Isaiah 6:1-3
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
“Sometimes we must be hurt in order to grow. We must fail in order to know. We must lose in order to gain. Some lessons are learned best only through pain.”
From the poem “God’s Hands”
Loss is a universal thing. Everyone loses something or someone in life. But not all who lost gain something.
In the recent catastrophe in our country many people experienced loss: a loss of a loved one, a family or friend, loss of properties, possessions–houses and buildings, stored memories.
How could these people gain in their loss?
Look at the story of Lt. Col. Fermin Carangan, one of the survivors in the typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), a commanding officer of TOG 8, an Air Force unit tasked to provide support to the people of Leyte and Samar.
Here’s his story as he narrated to Lt. Col. Allan Taguba:
“We were out of the office at 6 am Friday observing. Winds brought by Yolanda were already strong around that time. We (the Air Force troops in Tacloban) were prepared for the possibility of rescue missions days before the expected landfall of Yolanda. Just before 7 am, the rains started to pour, so we took shelter.
Around the same time, we noticed that water was slowly entering our office, so we went out again. Then suddenly, we saw that the water was getting higher and higher, until we were forced to get up the ceilings of the building. We had to bore holes on the ceiling just to get up there, and I was the last one up.
Suddenly the building collapsed and I saw my men falling into the surging water and very strong winds. There was also no more roof on top of the building. I was able to hold on to a piece of wood – a truss which I forcibly removed just before I was taken by waves and the strong current.
At sea, we went through another hell. We were slapped by waves, great big waves from all directions. We were also toyed by swirling winds. And we couldn’t help but drink a lot of salt water. I was now getting so tired. And so was Miguel (the boy’s name). He was just 7 years old. Too young to die, I thought. I thought of my family. I prayed to God to take care of my wife and kids. I thought I’ve done to them what every father could – that is, to take good care of them.
I also thought of my men. Days before, I had told them to ensure the safety of their families, especially those in Tacloban since the city could be hit hard and everyone of us would be busy in the rescue missions after Yolanda. They might not have time to check on their families during the rescue. Then I thought of the two new graduates of PMA 2013. I thought that if something happened to me, at least I had been able to give professional and honorable service for a time. And that I’ve done enough since graduation. These two young guys were just starting and still have a very bright future ahead.
Then I looked at Miguel. He was trembling hard due to the cold. His very young body could not just cope up with the elements. He said, “Kuya, I will sleep now. I’m so tired already.” Then I thought, maybe I survived because of this child. Without him I could have given up. Maybe he’s the reason I’m still alive because God wants me to make sure this child will live. I shouted at Miguel’s ears: “Don’t sleep! You can do it. Look, we are near land already.” Then I pointed at what I thought was another wall of swell, just to lift the spirit of Miguel. And then I realized that it was indeed the shoreline!! I thought there really is a Powerful Being!” (https://cbholganzablog.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/a-survivors-story/)
Lt. Col. Carangan lost his colleagues, his office, his security, and even strength when the water surge and strong winds blew. But there is something beautiful in his story. It was the fact that he saw the reality of a Powerful Being and at the same time he saw the hope and purpose to live—to keep the young boy Miguel alive. What a way of God in showing the reality of his presence and the purpose for his life.
Isaiah the prophet, in the death of one of the best kings of Judah, it was considered a great loss for the nation but it was the time Isaiah had a vision of God’s presence and His holiness. As he saw the holiness of God, he also experienced the grace of God that gave him the cleansing he needed. After which he was able to see his commission from God.
Isaiah 6: 5-8
5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
6Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Vision and mission became very clear for Isaiah when something so dear was taken away from him.
Just like a line in the poem “God’s Hands” that says, “Sometimes our vision clears,
only after our eyes are washed with tears.”
Friends, in your loss God wants to show Himself to you, it’s the greater gain you could get. Just let God clear your vision as your eyes are washed with tears.
May the vision of His presence and the clearness of your purpose be the gain in your loss!