I don’t think it was coincidence that yesterday on Ryann’s birthday her beloved yellow Bantam chicken, Chippy died. Now before you start feeling really awful over this just don’t. At least not for Ryann. Feel bad for me, I was more broken up over the whole thing than anyone! But that’s not the point of this post.
Micaila usually feeds the chickens and goats every morning but yesterday, I can’t even remember why, she asked me “mommy can you feed the chickens today.” So after we got them off to school Caleb and I went down to discover the loss. Chippy hadn’t been acting like her normal lively self so it wasn’t a total surprise. We just really hoped she was going to pull through. We didn’t know why she was acting sickly, all the others chickens were fine. But these things happen and I knew it was going to be an opportunity to teach the children about life and death and the glory of God.
We have never shielded our children from the reality of death. We’ve had grandparents pass and family friends pass and we’ve experienced the loss of animals. Death is apart of life and I always thought it would be counter productive to tip toe around it. There are a few things that come to mind for me regarding what I want my children to understand about death.
One thing that I reminded the girls yesterday on the way to school, before I had found Chippy, was that Chippy was the Lords. God created Chippy, and just as God gave her to us, like anything in life God can choose to take it away. Everything belongs to God to give and take as he sees fit.
The LORD gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up……….For all the earth is the LORD’s, and he has set the world in order. 1 Samuel 2:6a and 8b
He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed!” Job 1:21
When something is taken from us we can glorify God by our response to the loss. We can be thankful for the time with Chippy but life must go on for our hope is not in anything of this world but in Christ alone.
The second lesson to take from this situation is to remind our kids that life is fragile. People and animals get sick and die, sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly. We can’t control this, we just have to trust the Sovereignty of God.
I also don’t want my children to fear death. They are in the beginning stages of learning about God, who he is, how he loves us, how he sent his Son, Jesus, to die in our place and that Jesus has given us hope. There are a lot of things wrong with the world. There is a lot of pain, brokenness, and loss MUCH greater than losing a chicken. We can not promise our children that nothing bad will ever happen to them. If a tragic accident were to take my life tomorrow I would want my kids to know that:
1. I believe in Gods power to use pain and loss to draw us into him. (Matthew 5 The Beatitudes)
2. I didn’t fear death because I knew this was not my home. That we are just passing through.
Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. 1 Peter 2:11a
So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6
The frailty of life is also the reason we should be bold in our faith. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and we should be faithful and obedient to loving those around us, being a light to the darkness, acting when the Holy Spirit prompts us, living out the the Gospel every day, not perfectly but passionately and unswervingly.
If we put off with the teaching through the “small” things I believe it will be more difficult for them to handle the bigger things. Our hope is the driving force in our pursuit of the Kingdom of God. Not only the hope of eternal life but hope for redemption of all that’s broken. If we had no faith in the promises from scripture we would be totally hopeless. These moments are opportunities to instill in our children (and remind ourselves!! 🙂 ) that we trust God completely. We believe what he has told us about eternal life. We know that our purpose here is to point others to Him and sometimes we have to exercise that in the midst of loss. I want my kids to begin learning that we don’t have to be afraid of death when we are surrendered to Christ and have put all our faith and trust in him.
I know this is all very deep in regards to the death of a chicken but they are 6 and 7, you have to start somewhere. And we did! 🙂 We talked, we prayed, and we had a funeral ceremony.
Rest in peace Chippy. The sweetest little chicken we’ve ever met!