Summer bursts with wonder as flowers bloom and gardens abound with goodness. Children bicycle for the first time, and barbecues tease our senses. Like a hug from heaven, warm and gentle sunshine breezes wash away life's doldrums.
One of my favourite memories of summer included sharing a birthday with my father, July 12th. No matter where he was or what his work schedule entailed, we spent that day together. Some of my happiest moments were sharing cake and home-churned ice cream with my family.
In 1989, everything changed for me. Summertime became a bag of mixed emotions. Cancer reared its ugly head, claiming my father at the tender age of 46. From then on, I never felt like celebrating my birthdays.
Years passed, and I gave birth to Samantha. My premature baby girl lived only hours and was buried two days later on July 12th. Once again, sadness and longing for my loved ones filled my birthday.
Over time, I learned that things happen in life, including death, so I thought that I had recovered from grief.
Then my good friend was diagnosed with cancer; she lost her battle on July 5th, 2011, at just 36 years of age. Grieving grabbed me once more. I began to resent summertime, and think of it only as a time of loss and sorrow.
I have always thought that I was a good Christian. I believed in God, in heaven, and in His mercy. I held steadfast in my belief that all things that happen in life do happen for a reason, according to His will, in His time, and in His way. So why was I holding onto resentment and anger?
Psalm 22:24 – For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (NIV)
I should have been rejoicing that I would see my loved ones again one day in the kingdom of heaven. However, sometimes, even "good Christians" need a reminder.
Last summer, I was in Canada, and my husband was in the United Kingdom at the time. On July 10th, he sent me a beautiful bouquet of orchids with a note which said, "For your special days, in loving memory of those whom you've lost and in celebration of the years of life you have been gifted. I am honoured and blessed to be able to share them with you and promise we will make happy memories every chance we get."
A reminder indeed! I had not been thinking about my own cancer scare and how by God's grace and mercy, I had overcome it. I hadn't recalled that my other two children, both born pre-term, were now thriving, healthy teenagers. I hadn't remembered to thank Him for all of the wonderful blessings that I had taken for granted.
Psalm 30:5b – Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (NIV)
Now I remember to waken each day and thank God for giving it to me. This year, I have planted a rose tree in my front garden in memory of my lost loved ones and in honour of God for allowing me to live.
When we remember all that God has done for us, then we naturally want to do something positive to express our gratitude. What we choose to do will likely be as individual as each of us. It may be as simple as waking each day and thanking Him for it, or it might be the simple act of planting something.
Prayer: Thank You, Father God, for allowing us to experience loss so that we can appreciate the life that You have given to us. Thank You, Father, for giving us the sunshine and the rain. By Your blessing, we can grow food to supply us with bountiful tables. Thank You, Father, for giving us friends and family to share our lives, until such time that we may share Your home in heaven. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Thought: God allows loss so that we can appreciate His gift of life more.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Grace Greater Than Our Sin" (Lyrics)