The night before my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday she learned a tough lesson. Four days earlier we brought home a baby parakeet as a birthday present for her. She spent months researching how to care for parakeets and visiting the pet store. Finally, it was time to get one as a pet. Unfortunately, the cage we had was not quite the right size for a bird as small as a parakeet. Curious as he was, he managed to wriggle between the bars and escape.
He found his way out of the cage….and into the mouth of our 100 pound German Shepherd. Or, so we assume as we were unable to find the little guy anywhere.
There was frantic searching of every nook and cranny of our house. There was sobbing and wailing from my daughter, and accusations thrown at the dog like, “You are EEEEEVIL!”
A few feathers strewn about on the rug were all we found of the little bird. We drew the only logical conclusion. Our sweet family protector and companion had eaten the bird. She did what any dog would do when faced with the same situation.
After the initial shock of the tragedy passed and my daughter calmed down I told her about a kitten I had when growing up. He managed to escape out the door one day and was killed. I didn’t have him long. In fact, I don’t remember if he had a name. While it was sad, I told my daughter that things like this happen sometimes. And I told her that just like I got a new kitten, we would get her a new bird whenever she was ready.
It only took her a couple of hours to decide she was ready for a new bird.
We went back to the pet store where we got the first bird and told them our tale of woe. They helped us choose a cage with narrower bars so the new bird wouldn’t escape. My daughter picked out the only white parakeet in the flock of baby budgies they had available. We brought the new bird home and got her settled in.
The first bird wasn’t very friendly. Anytime I tried to hold him he bit me — hard. My daughter hadn’t even attempted to hold him as she was fearful of being bitten, too. We hoped he would warm up eventually. But, our new bird (we named her Luna), was friendly from the first day. She allowed my daughter to hold her and even perched on her finger right away! She’s playful and responsive to us. Both of my girls love playing with her and teaching her tricks. I enjoy the little bird more than I expected to, as well.
In the week since the first bird’s demise we’ve talked about how maybe what happened to the first bird, albeit tragic, was a “blessing in disguise.” It was terribly sad, but something good has come out of it. Luna is a sweeter and friendlier bird than the first one. She’s a better pet for our family. I told her the pain of losing her first bird was redeemed by how great the new bird is.
As she grows up and goes through life, my daughter will experience this lesson again, and again. Sometimes the pain won’t be resolved as quickly, and the redemptive end won’t be as easily seen.
Romans 8:28 says this:
“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Sometimes I’m not “so sure” that every detail of my life of love for God is worked into something good. There are things I wrestle with and difficulties that seem senseless, purposeless, and even redemptive-less. But somehow the story of that little bird encourages me. Maybe those dark, difficult areas of suffering and struggle, where I wail and scream inside like my daughter did, are being “worked into something good.”
I hope over the years my daughter can look back on her 10th birthday as a moment that defined her outlook on tragedy and pain. I pray she discovers encouragement and hope in the midst of whatever troubles she finds herself in as she remembers the story. And I pray that hope she has found can encourage others.