Before I begin, I just want to note that I know not all losses in life carry the same weight. Obviously the loss of a human is a much, much more heavy thing than the loss of an animal… I would not even dare to compare, but I believe in ALL loss those who know and cling to Christ will see glimpses of blessing if they will open their hearts to receive it.
We came home from church today to find that one of our precious puppies had passed away. This puppy had not seemed to keep up with the other two in growth and I had been concerned for the last couple of days that something might be wrong. The dogs were outside this morning and this little one had crawled far away from the others… from the comfortable “nest” that we had created in the deep shade…right into the hot sun where she took her last breath.
We were all devastated. There is something about seeing a life form without life in it that reaches to your very soul. This is the only puppy we had named. Nathan considered her his responsibility and he called her “Caroline”…”Care Bear” was her nickname. The boys took turns gently cradling her in their arms as we prepared a grave for her in our backyard. We laid her down and I watched as David hesitated for the longest time. He couldn’t bring himself to shovel dirt over her. Finally Jordan said, “Dad, you have to do it. You just have to.”
Death seems so final. So dark and so unchangeable. It seems to suck hope right out of life. Unless you know the One who has already conquered it. Then even in the darkest, seemingly hopeless moments, He reaches down and makes something beautiful.
Jordan is the strength of this family. His personality is strong. His reactions are strong. His emotions are usually strong. But I watched as my oldest broke down in sobs. I waited to hear the grief of losing a puppy, but instead this is what I heard. “Why did it have to be Nathan’s dog? Why couldn’t it have been mine?” I heard selflessness come out of my son, that would not have happened in the normal dregs of life. I watched as he “went to check on Nathan” several times…something completely out of the ordinary for a brother who had recently dubbed Nathan the biggest annoyance in his life. And I thanked God for moments so beautiful in the midst of grief.
Puppies are admittedly not David’s favorite things about life, but he is still shaken up about the death of this little one. He feels responsible. “If only…” “We should have…” “I shouldn’t have…” Doesn’t loss bring out these questions? Almost a refusal to accept what is…a desire to have known what was going to happen and change the outcome. Even Hollywood has grabbed onto this cry of the human heart and made movies where changing the inevitable is possible. The fact is this vulnerable place of humanness often is crafted into a tool that God uses to bring us closer to Him. We are reminded of our complete lack of control in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death…of our dependence on the only One who truly changes things. This is a lesson that we are all still learning around here, but one that my beloved especially struggles with as he tries to keep the world going on his shoulders.
So when Jordan said thoughtfully, “This is good for us, Mom.” I, not only knew exactly what he meant, but I fully agreed. If we let it, every loss that God allows into our lives can be good for us. It can change us, grow us, open us, break us, ultimately make us into people who look like Jesus. Loss is not in vain when it is in the hands of the Great Redeemer.
I miss that puppy something fierce. Every time I walk by the other two, I feel a lump form in my throat. Earlier I was blessed to be able to share this crisis with a great friend who happened to call. I began to explain to her what I was seeing in my family as a result of this loss, and she reasoned that maybe, just maybe, this puppy was created by God for this exact and particular reason. What an incredible thought! What an amazing gift! What an awesome God who gives such beauty for ashes!
In all the losses of life…the heart crushing huge ones and the tearless tiny ones…if you will open your broken heart to a big God, He will open your eyes to His benevolent blessings. SEE