Today is the third anniversary of Ava’s passing. And I suppose that her death, like all our children’s births, will forever be etched into my memory. But you know what, I thank God that because of His incredible faithfulness, coupled with the passage of time, our hearts are healing very nicely and all I can do is look forward to seeing Ava once again as we spend eternity together in the presence of God.
But let’s be honest, this is three years later talking. Loss is hard, we all know that. It’s hard enough to lose little things that we like, but then there are also big things that we love, things like friendships, marriages, and possessions and people. Even our dreams, those things that we always thought would come to pass in our life sometimes are lost to us and it’s all so very hard.
And the truth is that by the time I lost Ava I wasn’t new to loss. A cousin, friends, siblings of friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents; like so many others, I’ve been to more funerals of people who I loved that I care to count. And praise God I can still carry on. But have I learned anything from loss? What has it taught me?
Well here is just a bit of what I’m learning and it’s becoming clear that God’s views on loss are very different from mine. Now Jesus wept when he experienced the loss of his friend, so we know that it’s good to grieve. In fact, grief is a God-given emotion given to us for the purpose of letting go of the things that we love. (I’ve always loved that tidbit, gleaned from this book “Good and Angry” https://www.biblicalparenting.org/r-goodandangry.asp ) So we need to grieve our loss… we have too. And I remember one of the nurses of the PACT team in Toronto telling me that we often will say that things make us upset, when the reality is that the hurt was already inside us and that thing was just a catalyst that allowed that hurt to come out. And I love that. I’ve told my kids that a lot when they would see me cry about Ava and they would get worried. I hope it reassured them to hear me say that a certain song wasn’t making me upset – I was already upset, the song just helped me let go of a little more of the hurt in my heart.
But I’ve also learned that I need to hold on lightly to the things here on earth. Not only because the things here on earth are temporal, but God has told us that this isn’t where our focus or our treasure is to be. (Matt 6:19-20) In fact Paul actually says in Philippians 3:8 that he counts everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ! Then he says he has lost all things and counts them rubbish! Rubbish! I see that Paul understood something that I am only starting to see… that the things or even the people who I hold dear down here on earth, the things that can be taken away from me, aren’t the things that allow me to enjoy God in all his fullness and glory. In fact, they are all things that typically distract me, and often pull me away from God.
Not that I lost Ava because she was a distraction, of course not! But I know that living down here in a sinful and fallen world means I’m prey to the hurt and the pain that comes to us all. Doesn’t the Bible teach that the rain falls on the good and the bad? No one is immune to it and I think that’s the point I’m trying to make. We often treat loss like it’s the worst thing that happened to us, and it’s so unfair, and that maybe God doesn’t care, when in fact, it might be the best thing that ever happens to us. It might be that thing that sends you to your knees and strengthens your relationship on God, or sets your mind and your focus to eternity and gets your focus off of temporal and earthly things.
Jason and I have said over and over again, we would never go back. Losing Ava was so very hard, but when we take into account the work that God has done in our lives, how he changed us and stretched us and grew us and how we had a first row seat to watching His faithfulness and mercy… well we can say with full hearts, we would do it all again.
So what did the loss of Ava teach me? It taught me that God is in control and that He does have a plan, and nothing can happen to me that is outside His plan. And the best part is that He is all my soul really longs for. He is the only thing that will ever satisfy and bring me joy. And because of this, no matter what He gives and what takes away, I will be OK.
In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11