“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17)
On November 3rd a “Facebook memory” appeared on my profile page. It was from 2 years ago and was a picture of our dog Cassie. November 3rd is her birthday. Cassie died on January 11th of this year. She was such a part of our daily lives. I realized that more fully when I set off the alarm a few times in the morning that first week because she wasn’t there to remind me to turn it off so I could let her out. It was also strange not having her occasionally greet me on the driveway when I pulled up, beg by the dinner table, or if not outright begging, stare me down when I ate, waiting for me to give her a sign that it was okay to come get a bite. All of a sudden, things you took for granted, you wish you could have back.
God’s word tells us that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:7). I think it’s pretty easy to over spiritualize certain things that happen. I try hard not to do that. I guess that’s why it’s taken me so long to put into words what’s been on my mind for quite some time. I even had a few conversations with friends to get their opinion about whether, if in the case of Cassie, I was doing what I try and guard against. I’ve also hesitated in writing this because I know some who have lost much more. However, the more I’ve thought about it, I don’t think it’s an over spiritualization at all. Cassie was a source of joy and a blessing to our family. She taught us a lot about love and loyalty. She was a gift. God was the giver. Sometimes I think it’s easy to forget from whom it is ultimately that the joys and blessings in life come.
There is a theological term called “common grace”. Common grace is “the grace of God by which He gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation”. It is grace given to both believers and unbelievers. I don’t know if Cassie’s death made me more sensitive to it or not, but I’ve noticed many postings from people who have also had to say goodbye to their pets this year. I remember experiencing personally in the case of our losing Cassie, and reading in other cases, the many kind expressions of sorrow from others. Some of these expressions came from people who believe differently than me on a whole host of issues. Fortunately or unfortunately, you learn those things from Facebook too. But in some things, our differences don’t seem to matter and we see God’s common grace shine through. I think these expressions of sorrow and encouragement that our family experienced and the expressions I read in other cases are just that, a display of God’s common grace.
As 2015 comes to a close, it will soon be a year since Cassie has been gone. We miss our little Cassie, but will always cherish the 13 years we had with her. In many ways, I think she taught us more than we taught her. I’m sure we are not alone in either our missing or our learning. I am reminded of one of the conversations I had with a friend where he told me they used to have a ceramic piece that hung in their kitchen above the sink. It was a silhouette of a dog. Painted on it was a prayer that read, “Lord, make me the person my dog thinks I am”. We would do well to let that be our prayer even now