Let me tell you a story about a few lucky ducks.
Last summer my kids decided once again that we should hatch duck eggs. We had been hatching eggs for the past three summers or so but this time around there was an added tension. This year was the first year we had… a dog!
Now this dog came out of nowhere, literally. He was found roaming the streets and while his unexpected arrival had brought many new dimensions to our undogged life, the one thing we were hoping not to change, was the summer hatching.
So we built a fence. A sturdy one at that. We prayed. We researched dogs and ducks. We prayed. We hoped. And in a few weeks they arrived.
I love that picture. That’s my Isabelle holding her beloved ducks. It’s hard to explain how much my daughter loves her ducks, except to say… well just look at the picture again. It is worth ten thousand words.
For a while everything was fine. The dog and the duckies were cohabiting peacefully outside and it seemed like the precaution of the fence plus all our prayers was exactly what was needed to prevent disaster.
But we were wrong.
I remember so clearly that night when Isabelle’s panicked shrills turned my body cold as I raced down the stairs to the backyard where she was.
There she stood screaming in the yard in the middle of what we had feared. I rushed her crying little body inside the house, leaving behind 6 dead ducklings. The dog had jumped the fence and in attempt to play with them, went too far and killed them.
God had spared six of the duckies and from then on they were called the “lucky ducks.” But that night, my daughter for the first time, felt the deep sting of losing something she had loved so very much. And it hurt. That night when we prayed I promised her that one day, God in time would heal her hurt and one day it wouldn’t hurt as bad as it did that night.
~To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Many weeks passed by from that one night. But then one summer evening as she was riding her bike around the park she abruptly stepped on her brakes, made a U-turn back to me and said “Mom, guess what? It doesn’t hurt anymore. My heart doesn’t hurt. God really did take it away. I still miss my duckies but I’m not sad anymore. I’m happy again!”
And with a smile on her face that lit up that summer night, she rode off.
You know what? I wouldn’t take back that horrible night for anything in the world, because she learned a truth about God that can only be learned through tears and heartache…
God can work a miracle in our hearts.
I don’t know how he does it. How he makes this great exchange of mourning to joy, despair to praise but He does. And I guess if we could figure that out, it wouldn’t be so miraculous.
And because Isabelle experienced this clearing of pain for herself, the truth in those verses are real to her.
And they are to me too.