Children and pets make wonderful photographs. They also make heartbreaking moments. This combination provides a real-life test of just how practical your theology is. If God is in control of all things and he loves you then how is it possible that your child’s puppy, kitten, parakeet, fish, hamster, turtle or rabbit has gone missing, or worse? It is possible because this is what life is like in a fallen world.
If you have pets, this is a question that needs to answered with compassion and credibility. Not having a clear, comforting answer is one way of telling your children that God doesn’t really care about them or understand them.
Having pets provides you with the opportunity to trust God’s goodness when difficult things happen. No life on earth, including your pet’s life, is guaranteed to last through each day. Even so, God does all things for his glory and our goodness. This topic needs to be part of your daily conversations with your children. For children and their parents losing a pet can be a shattering time. It is also an opportunity to trust God when life really, really hurts.
The Bible beautifully explains the closeness we can have with our pets. Nathan describes this closeness in a way that touches our hearts:
“…but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him.” (2 Samuel 12:3-4)
What a moving description of what it means to love a pet! One of the reasons the Holy Spirit gave us this description is that so that we can know that God really does understand our loss when our pet dies or goes missing. This tender narrative tells your children that God fully does understand when a pet is missing.
Make no mistake. God is ultimately in control, even when a pet is lost. He wants you and your children to trust him through your tears. He is able to heal the loss.
Parents, it is good to cry with your children, hold them, and listen to them. But through your tears speak of the comfort you and they have from God. Tell them you know that God cares for them and that even in this sadness he will bring good things. Tell them that God can heal their broken hearts. Sometimes in life there are no easy answers, but there is always a faithful God who knows just how deeply we hurt. Trust him and take comfort that he does all things well. Don’t hide this truth from your children or from yourself.