The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 26, 2009


I have only once lost a truly prized possession. It was prized, not because it was of such great value. It was a gift, given sacrificially by someone I love, a silent testimony of shared connection and deep affection.

One day I had it, the next day it was gone. There was nothing to be done. Hunting and hunting had not brought it home. It was just irretrievably missing. In its place a small emptiness opened – loss.

It comes in many forms – a bitter betrayal, an unfulfilled expectation, a petty meanness, a gaping chasm of misunderstanding. Circumstance or someone has taken from me that which I feel I cannot afford to let go.

What I meet in loss is my own deep longing, that nagging sense that something is missing which drives so much of our perceived need to accumulate and hoard or protect what little we feel we have. Life has not measured up to my standards. The persistent worm of regret gnaws at my heart.

The temptation is to rush to fill the empty space. Purchase a new possession. Find a new relationship to replace the one that has fallen apart. Make a fresh plan to fill in where the old plan has been left in tatters.

But the real challenge and opportunity of loss is to simply sit with the empty space.

This is the function of the ancient spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting consciously and intentionally connects us with that feeling of emptiness, from which we spend so much time and energy in flight. Jesus said,

Blessed are you who are poor… Blessed are you who hunger now. (Luke 6:20,21)

Loss is our friend not our enemy. Loss creates an open space in which we begin to discover that we were created for something more than what we have lost. Our poverty and our hunger cannot ultimately be satisfied by any of those things to which we so tenaciously cling.

If we feel satisfied by anything this world has to offer, we have not looked deeply enough. We have not allowed the losses of our life to do the full work for which they were designed.

There is no human relationship, no possession, no professional accomplishment that can satisfy the depths of our human longing. We were crated for something more. We were designed to be finally content with God alone. Our hearts cry out for the invisible secret depths of God. Until we hear that cry, we will continue the endless restless struggle to achieve in the world, that which can only be achieved in the invisible secret realm of the human heart.

There are beautiful possessions in life. We may experience the gift of wonderful, deep, and nurturing relationships in the course of our journey. But they will all let us down at some point. Every relationship, experience, or possession will become another experience of loss if we hold on to it long enough. The challenge is to let go before they are wrenched out of our grip. Discover the freedom that comes from clinging only to that deep love that will never forsake us.

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