Most Christians will automatically think of Jesus from the title, and rightly so, as he is God’s most costly and lavish gift to us! But we will surely be missing the breadth of God’s love if we overlook the gifts He gives to us each day and throughout different stages in our lives. Think of someone that you really tried to bless with a special gift. How much thought and preparation did it take you? In His perfect ways, our Heavenly Father gives us what is good, with intentionality. It is with the goodness of His heart that He lavishes His love upon us in these gifts.
I write today of God’s very special gift to my daughter in a little Diamond Dove named Sweet Pea. You see, upon graduation from high school, my daughter struggled with depression in her first months at college. Typical of the condition, she slept most of the day, stayed up late into the morning hours, began shutting herself off from friends and family. It was truly scary to see my child become like this. But God gently guided us as a family, provided excellent counseling through GRC, moved people to intercede on our behalf and after two years, my daughter was ready to go back to college.
With trepidation, she started the re-enrollment process about 3 months before the Fall semester. There was a fear that the pressures of school would lead to anxiety that could paralyze her again. The Lord had done a miraculous work in her, but was she ready to go back to the place where she experienced such hopelessness? Then she asked if she could take a pet bird with her to school. The school had to approve of it, but God had prepared this gift for her, and in a matter of days, they were off to school together!
She had never cared for a bird before (although she was thorough in her research before asking us for one) and now she had to transition to starting school again while learning to care for Sweet Pea. At night, she was often awakened by the sound of his frantic flapping and crashing into the cage walls. But by the time Thanksgiving break came, he was a free-flying bird who trusted his owner’s hand. Sweet Pea helped her keep a good circadian rhythm (since he was often up early in the morning). He was a companion who liked to sit on her shoulder or sit on her laptop as she studied or wrote papers. He held her accountable because he relied on her to provide for his daily needs. As with God’s best gifts, Sweet Pea reminded her that she had a wonderful Creator and she grew in her marvel of the Lord through this special gift given to her, and each new morning, she experienced rich joy in the Lord.
So often, we take these special gifts for granted until the Lord takes them from us. In this case, Sweet Pea died overnight and was discovered on a Sunday morning, unexpectedly, to say the least. It had only been about 15 months, but we were all very sad to say goodbye to him. Although my daughter was hysterical for hours, overcome with such grief and sadness – now 4 days later, she is coping with her loss with faith, trusting that the same God who gave her such a wonderful gift is still good and still working for her best. My daughter and I still shed tears for that little bird. He had such a personality! But we are comforted because our Savior is “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” (Is 53:3) Jesus wept as Mary and Martha grieved for Lazarus. But it wouldn’t be long until Jesus would endure the cross to give us a joy that no one can take away. (John 16:22) Certainly, the Lord used Sweet Pea to teach my daughter many things! Even in Sweet Pea’s death, I was reminded of the remarkable statement from Jesus to Peter in Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Like the prowling cat who made his way into Sweet Pea’s room that night, Satan has no care for our well-being – in fact, he desires to destroy us. But we remember that Satan is under God’s authority and that he can only strike when God allows it to happen. For our resilience comes from the fact that Jesus, God’s only Son, prays for us! Jesus is petitioning the Father for us! Not only did my daughter lose her best friend, but she was also on the cusp of exam week! Although my heart feared for my daughter, and whether she would be completely crushed by this loss, my Lord reminded me that He is praying for her and that His Spirit will strengthen her to stand in faith. I had to cleave to Jesus and not worry about the exams – but seek His greater work in her to produce a faith more pure than gold.
Sometimes God’s gifts are only for a season, but the true wonder is how perfect a gift they are to our soul. Even in losing Sweet Pea, God is revealing His loving faithfulness and we are learning that even in sorrow, we can trust our Maker’s hand.
Gloria Huang has been a member of GRC since 2013 and is a Deaconess.