I’ve thought a lot lately about loss and grief and suffering…and death.
Sadly, I’m too familiar with it. You probably are too, especially post-pandemic.
The old adage “we’re either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis” has never been more accurate. The world has gone mad, or so it seems.
When we, or people we know and love, are faced with suffering, it forces us to ponder things much more deeply than we otherwise would. We begin to question, looking for answers at every turn. We want to know how we’re supposed to get through it. And why.
Even when the one who’s suffering is the dog.
I mentioned a few days ago that we’ve just learned our dog Aspen has terminal cancer. While this kind of news isn’t pleasant for anyone, animal lovers take it especially hard.
And we’re definitely animal lovers.
Certainly not the throw-red-paint-on-your-fur-coat variety, but our animals are part of the family. God created these amazing creatures and put them under our watch and care — we take that very seriously. So, this news has been especially hard to accept.
I know many people who’ve recently suffered the loss of a parent, husband, wife, brother, sister, friend… even a child. Many more are struggling physically. Others are facing financial hardship. It’s difficult to imagine there are people in our world who have so little they’re not entirely sure where even their next meal is going to come from…but they exist — potentially right next door.
If we choose to dwell on the reality of our lives without proper perspective, it’s depressing at best. Worst, it’s crippling. We simply weren’t meant to carry the weight of our struggles.
We were, instead, created with — as C.S. Lewis so beautifully put it — “a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy.” A longing. A craving.
Scripture tells us all of creation groans as we await redemption.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:18-25
I keep going back to that word in bold – expectation. Expectancy.
We are not made for this world — we are eternal beings, created with a longing that only Jesus can satisfy. The goal, then, is to live with expectation…expectancy…realizing that while there are plenty of things we can control, there are things that happen this side of heaven that we can’t fix.
One of my favorite books of the Bible is Job — I know that’s a weird book to choose as a favorite, given Job’s suffering, but when I think back to the times I’ve suffered through loss, or watched family or friends suffer physically, it’s the book I turned to for comfort. Recently, thanks to my pastor, I’ve become fascinated by chapters 38-41 — God answers Job’s questions with a long series of questions that confirm His sovereignty and His power.
Ultimately, the book of Job reminds us there is an unseen battle taking place in our lives. (Ephesians 6:12) We wonder, because we’re human, why God allows suffering. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We question His goodness, because we don’t have the ability to see what lies ahead, or know His ultimate purpose.
So, we’re left with a choice: trust, or be bitter. Live in peace, or anxiousness. Life with expectancy, or despair.
I don’t always choose well — I’m a worry wart. But once again, through grieving the coming loss of a beloved pet, God is teaching me: Trust. Peace. Expectancy. His ways are always, always better than mine.
* My husband’s Townhall column this week deals with a similar topic – we both process our thoughts through writing and he does it so beautifully. You can find that article here.
*Crossposted on Substack*