When We Face Loss

7 comments Written on February 1st, 2012 by
Categories: Alumni, General

Message from the Alumni Director

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

Have you ever experienced a time of loss? The loss of a job, your health, a committed relationship, a marriage, a dream, a child, or a loved one? Throughout life’s journey the road is often met with hardship — difficult seasons that seem unjust and unfair. 

On Facing Loss

Dr. Rob Hildebrand shared with our student body in chapel this past week about his own journey of loss. At 24 years of age, he lost both of his parents in a terrible automobile accident. On the eve of what was anticipated to be a beautiful event — the wedding of a close family friend — Rob’s mother and father, along with the parents of the bride, were traveling home when struck by another vehicle that had failed to adhere to a stop sign. The impact was severe, taking the life of both his parents, as well as the father of the bride. As you can imagine, it was a pretty emotional retelling of events as he recounted this incredible time of loss in his own life.

He walked through what was described as being “a dark night of the soul” — orphaned and feeling more alone than ever before. He was wrestling with intense and weighted emotions while trying to discern the voice of the Lord saying, “I love you, and it is going to be OK.” All the while the enemy, not too far away, kept calling, “This is so unfair, and you don’t deserve this!”

Defining Moments

“These are life defining moments,” Rob said. In times of loss, when faced with difficult decisions, what we do with our pain matters. As Dr. Hildebrand chose to trust the Lord, he was able to forgive the man responsible for taking what was most precious to him. When wrongful things happen to us, we can either choose to hold on to bitterness and allow it to consume our lives, or we can choose to trust God’s sovereignty and experience the freedom that comes when we do.

Joseph’s story in the Old Testament reminds us of God’s power demonstrated through the act of such forgiveness. As one who had every right to hold onto bitterness — hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, forgotten in prison — Joseph chose to honor God and God used his life for the greater purpose of saving hundreds of thousands of people. “You intended to harm me,” Joseph said, “but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Grief And Forgiveness

Closing our time together, Dr. Hildebrand read for us the letter he had written after his parents were taken in the accident. Below is a paraphrased portion of that letter:

“Dear Sir,… I’m told that you were the one driving the car that killed my parents on the night of September 8, 1995.… I’ve wanted to tell you since the moment I first heard of the crash…I forgive you!… I believe there is a God who sovereignly controls the course of human events.... He uses and guides these events toward some greater good.… I’m confident that this God is still at work despite the pain that this event has brought to me and my brothers. I also want you to experience this forgiveness because I am a man who has had his sins forgiven by this same God.… This path has not always been easy…but God has been faithful…. We have not allowed our pain and our anger to consume us. We have not harbored that bitterness in our hearts. We have found freedom from it and I hope that you can find this same freedom….”

While we may not always understand the reasoning behind our difficult circumstances, my prayer is that He would give us faith to stand firm in what we know to be true about Him. And as we do, may we grow in learning to trust a God who is good and sovereign while always at work in the lives of His children.

Remembering a greater plan and a greater purpose,



Michelle M. Peel, BA ’00, MA ‘10
Director of Alumni Relations
Multnomah University

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Director of Alumni Relations

7 comments “When We Face Loss”

Thank you for this sensitive handling of a very touchiing subject. You have written well. I am glad for this chance to hear from a chapel session through your pen.

You are most welcome, Dorothy. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m blessed to hear that the Lord has used this months message to encourage you. Appreciatively, Michelle

I hope all is well at Multnomah! And I’m praying for you that the Lord may grant you a godly husband. He should be a strong man, and that’s a good thing, as long as he’s a godly man. Have realistic expectations, and God Bless Kenny Z.

Wow! Dr. Rob’s message and yours were so timely for me and my three families within the last three years. The one I was born into faced the loss of my 48-year old brother; the one I married into has suffered grief through a sad divorce, loss of a job, kids going off to college and more; and God’s
family through our local body of believers was ripped apart at the seams by an unfortunate church split. But praise the Lord that He “causes all things to work together for good.” Love, forgiveness and reconciliation is the path we chose. God is good; all the time!! All the time; God is good!!!

Thanks Kenny! Your comment brought a smile to my face. Things are great here at MU! Getting ready for our BIG 75th Anniversary Homecoming Week celebration next week. Are y’all coming? It’s going to be a week you won’t want to miss 🙂

Thanks so much for sharing, Gary. Sorry to hear it has been such a difficult few years. Love, forgiveness and reconciliation is an admirable path and only possible with Him. Indeed, He is a faithful, loving and GOOD God…even amidst seasons of loss. Blessings to you brother, Michelle

Yes, God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good! Even as I remember my mother who would have been 80 years old today but left this earth much too young at the age of 48, I am allowing love and faithfulness to never leave me, according to Proverbs 3:3, because the essence of our Lord is good and holy. Have a great homecoming week of wonderful celebrations too. God bless you good…