This week, our family fought to save the life of a bearded dragon who was slowly, painfully dying of yellow fungus. The boys prayed every night for their lizard's healing, but, unlike his namesake, this Gandalf didn't have the power to overcome death. It was terrible to watch a creature in our stewardship suffer, struggle for life, and finally die.
But Gandalf the Second served a purpose in the vocation of parenting. He (she? it was hard to tell) gave us insight into how our Master feels when a creature in His care suffers. And s/he provided the opportunity to sanction grief. Even when you're a tough-talking adolescent boy, and the creature who dies is a a small, scaly, non-cuddly reptile, you can still crawl back into bed and let the tears flow. In fact, you should. Finally, s/he gave our family's atrophied spiritual muscles of surrender a bit of exercise. When prayers aren't answered our way, it's a chance to take the prescribed faith-strengthening medicine offered by Jesus: declaring and accepting, "Thy will be done."