No more than twenty minutes ago we had to put my dog down. We got Sasha just a few months after our first daughter was born. For the past eleven years, she has been the standard by which we measured the dogs of friends and family. There will never be another dog that was as loving and caring as she was. She was at the side of all three of our children as babies, and she never left Rebecca’s side when we lost Mary (our second daughter) 19 weeks into the pregnancy. I could go on with the memories, but that is not why I am writing this.

As we spent the whole car ride back from the vet’s office crying inconsolably, I began to think about how good this experience is for my children. I know that it sounds odd to say such things, but they need to experience life. I can’t help but feel like God led me in the right direction with this from the start. From the moment two hours ago when I sat my children down and fought back every desire to lie to them in order to save face. God made it clear to me how important it was to tell them exactly what was happening and why it was about to take place. This is life, this is reality, that we must live with pain as well as joy. This moment, was a moment that I could point my children to Jesus.

Humanity is in search of ways to not have to deal with suffering. Eastern religions offer ways to detach oneself from all things in order to escape the reality of suffering. In fact Buddha teaches that our goal is to be completely detached from every emotion, all in a way to deal with suffering. Islam offers a set of regulations and rules to follow that don’t even offer assurance of salvation. The leader of Islam wasn’t even sure that he was going to make it to heaven, and he wrote the book. Jesus, on the other hand, offers a way not to only deal with pain, but a way to find joy in the midst of suffering.

Jesus offers assurance of eternal security in Him, and a restored relationship with the Father God. Jesus offers a way to, not detach oneself from pain, but live in it and survive through it. It is through pain that we find joy! Look at the cross. The crucifixion was the very definition of suffering to the worst degree and through it the only true joy in the resurrection of new life is found.

The beautiful thing about this incredible pain is that my girls will get to see how our God makes roses grow from ashes. They get to see the strength of the one true God to pull them through and make them stronger. I get to teach my children about the blessed assurance that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ, and watch them experience the joy that can only come through a relationship with Him. As much as I am going to miss my friend Sasha, I am grateful that she was used by God to teach such a valuable lesson to my wonderful daughters.