Many years ago I served as an Inspector with the RSSPCC, the Scottish equivalent of the NSPCC. And in the course of my work, occasionally, it became necessary for me to take children into public care, if they were being subjected to abuse or serious neglect.
Now it may sound strange to you but I was always reassured when a child separated from its parent with great difficulty. For if not, I knew that the chances of rehabilitation and bonding would plummet significantly. Although I hated such scenes of distress (and who wouldn't) I knew if there was anguish with tears then this was definitely grounds for hope.
Of course, experiences of separation and loss are common to us all at certain points in our daily living. Many people enter our lives. Some we get to know extremely well... and some we begin to love. But then it's as if God shakes the kaleidoscope, situations change and sadly they exit our lives... and we can truly miss them. Yet, God provides a rainbow. Though the person I love disappears from my sight... they can remain forever in my heart.
Of course this is unmistakable evidence of the fact that to love is also to become vulnerable... vulnerable to the pain of separation and loss... to be inescapably exposed to disappointment, sadness, distress and even despair. But thankfully, in such circumstances those of us who have become Christians can rely on special promises of divine help...
'The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who
are crushed in spirit.'
'He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.'
Psalm 34:18 & Psalm 147:3
And German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, suggests the following point of view...
'There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and
one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it.
At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort.
For to the extent the emptiness remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness, God in
no way fills it but much more leaves it unfilled and thus helps us preserve...
the authentic relationship.
Furthermore, the more beautiful and full of remembrances, the more difficult
the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.
One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep
within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.'
Of course the most serious form of separation (and loss) that anyone could ever face is one of which many in our world can be completely unaware... and sadly, unconcerned...
'...your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have
hidden his face from you...'
Yet, in view of this, the greatest, and no doubt the most severe, separation in human history was when, for our sake, God the Father turned His back, as it were, on His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, leading Him to cry out in anguish from the Cross of Calvary...
'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?'
Yes, even Almighty God knows all about the agony of separation and loss, and as such is well able to enter into our darkest distress. And thankfully, He's only ever a prayer away.