One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about Thanksgiving, albeit one of the hardest, was when I tragically lost my long-time paralyzed ministry dog Mr. Simeon who was truly one of the absolute greatest blessings in my life. I lost him a bit over a year ago as of the writing of this message, and I was so bonded to that beautiful dog if it were not for Jesus I am positive I would not have made it through the loss. My heart is still crushed, but God carries me forward.
Mr. Simeon was found by a young woman after being run over by a car. She thought he was dead but he lifted his head off the ground. A year later, she still had him. She asked me to take him since I did dog rescue work. I said I couldn’t. I had tons of dogs. I offered to meet him though and give advice. She had been thinking of euthanizing him. He was in horrible shape when I met him. He was being neglected in his rescuer’s home. Emaciated, skin infection, ear infection if I recall, unbelievably long toenails, and laying alone on the floor surrounded with feces everywhere. The young woman agreed to let me take him to my vet’s office and then return him. There was no turning back. With the young woman’s permission, at the advice of the vet and at the leading of the Lord, I kept Mr. Simeon for years to come.
He died tragically one night in my hotel room. He was elderly and had had an amazing life but I never thought I would lose him that night nor truly ever. He was one of God’s greatest gifts ever to me. He couldn’t move more than a few inches without my help and relied on me for everything. He was also hugely spoiled, my fault of course, and “talked”, yes talked, my ears off. When he wanted something, he told me. I remember being in the shower and hearing him “talk” because he wanted me to come back and be with him. Losing him broke me, not being able to take him on wheelchair walks with his long-time buddy paralyzed ministry dog Miss Mercy was heartbreaking. Still is, all this time later.
Know what happened almost immediately after the loss? The Lord compelled me to be THANKFUL. What? Thankful? In the midst of grief like that? Seriously? YES! God made me realize partly back then and then over time I should be thankful for all the years He gave me with Mr. Simeon, for giving me a few extra years after he had almost died some years after getting him, for Mr. Simeon passing away with me there rather than my having to take him to a vet to euthanize him, for Mr. Simeon not going through a long painful disease like cancer like many of my other dogs over the years, for God’s mercy on me for the times I fell short with Mr. Simeon and my other dogs when I in my sin lost my temper, for Mr. Simeon and the other dogs forgiving me when I fell short and didn’t love them the way I desperately wanted to, and, most of all, for THE LORD HIMSELF and my relationship with Him and for all His endless blessings including for God’s love and comfort for that incredible loss as well as for all the other losses I have gone through.
Less than 24 hours after losing Mr. Simeon, I was able to praise the Lord. Thanking God in the midst of our sorrow and grief does not mean we don’t hurt. But it does mean we acknowledge the Lord and His amazingness through it all and thank Him for all that we should be thankful for – most of all FOR THE LORD!
I miss my Mr. Simeon like I just lost him yesterday. The sadness is deep inside me and hasn’t gone away. But in God’s strength I carry on loving and serving Him with all my heart, being thankful to God, and pressing on in fulfilling my life’s calling to help people become and remain totally devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Probably one of the last things in the world any of us would in our human nature consider when we’re grieving a great loss is to be thankful to the Lord and to express our Thanksgiving to Him.
I believe losing Mr. Simeon marked a big turning point in my life. I believe the Lord used that incredible loss I experienced as an opportunity for me to learn to do something so vital in our seasons of loss. To be thankful to the Lord for all that we have to be thankful for – most especially for the Lord and including for the time the Lord gave us with those we have loved and lost.
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” Psalms 150:6 KJV