The holidays are officially over and as most of you know, last year was a tough one for the Toussaint family. We coasted into the end of year on fumes, trying diligently to leave all the challenges of last year behind us. We all needed a little break from the daily grind and in fact, Janet and I had plans to go away for a few days next week.
But once again, our plans have been foiled. We really thought that the beginning of 2014 would allow us to turn a page and have a new beginning. Instead, the holidays included the loss of Kristin’s father-in-law, several issues that will involve a ton of dental work this spring for me and the thing that that impacts us the most – a very sick pet who fell ill over the last several days. Now many of you may think we are nuts but all of us love our pets and so it really interrupts our lives when one of our “family members” falls ill – and let me tell you, Lexie, our 7 year old Doberman, is very ill indeed. She has been at the veterinary hospital three times since Saturday and has another appointment tomorrow morning – this time for a bone marrow biopsy to see if they can finally diagnose what her problem is.
Today was the first time I ever heard of a dog getting a blood transfusion but Lexie went through that this afternoon. And she has had ultrasounds, blood work and numerous other procedures designed to try and come up with some diagnosis that will hopefully allow a treatment program that will save her life.
Now those of you who don’t have pets or don’t care that much about animals probably don’t sympathize with the anxiety we are feeling tonight. But both Janet and I have had dogs since we were youngsters and there is no denying that the joy we receive from rescuing and having dogs in the house is something very dear to both of us. Of course we know that we’re not talking about children or people here, but we have never had a dog that we didn’t consider a part of the family – and we aren’t prepared to lose Lexie.
In my pastoral role, one of the questions I often get asked is whether animals go to heaven when they die. Certainly, there is no biblical evidence to assure us that they do, but on the other hand, I am not aware of anything that would preclude the possibility that our beloved animals will be heaven bound. I was reading an interesting letter to Billy Graham about heaven and he responded that there will not be any emotional pain in heaven.
That brings us the entire subject of what happens to our recollections of unsaved loved ones when we arrive in heaven. After all, if those folks don’t get to heaven and we loved them deeply, it would seem that there is something that has to give. Otherwise, there would be deep emotional pain as we remember those who don’t join us for eternity with the Father. To a lesser degree, the same argument applies to the furry members of our families. Will we remember them, or will they be joining us after physical life ends?
Hopefully, in our case, it will be many years before we know the answer to that question. For the time being, we are hoping and praying that the doctors can find a cure for what ails Lexie. She’s been through a lot and there is no doubt that it has deeply affected Janet; and me as well. I daresay even the kids are upset at the prospect that Lex has a life threatening illness. Not so long ago, one of our friends, the Arland family, lost their cat who had been with them close to 2 decades. And another friend of ours lost a dog the middle of last year, got another dog several months later; and that puppy died unexpectedly at Thanksgiving. Our friend is still grieving into this new year.
Needless to say, Janet and I are weary. There is a huge feeling of tired resignation that the rest of the issues from last year aren’t yet resolved. And as far as getting away is concerned? Well, we won’t be doing that either. Just can’t leave town with the things we are dealing with.
For now, we’re hoping and praying that Lexie can and will make a full recovery. As selfish as it sounds, we’re not ready to suffer another loss in the family – even if it’s a pet… Thank God that everyone else is well and it looks like the rest of the family is entering 2014 with a healthy outlook on the year. The verse for this evening is from the prophet Isaiah. He tells us, many years before the birth of Christ, that God takes care of the weary. In Is. 40:30, we are told, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” That’s what Janet and I need tonight – renewed strength.
Our encouragement this evening is that God expects us to trust Him with everything. That’s the challenge we are all asked to face. My prayer is that no matter how big the task, you will put your trust in God and depend on Him to ease your weariness and anxiety – after all, He’s God. And we pray that Lexie has a number of years left with us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…