This past week was a really hard one for our family. On Wednesday, all four kids, Philip, and I gathered at our Vet’s office to love on and say goodbye to Mollie, our blonde lab. It was gut wrenching because she was one of us, a full-fledged member of the family. Truth is, we never got around to telling her she was a dog. Maybe that is because we never really saw her as anything but a member of the family. I’m very sure some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
After we brought her home and buried her, we began to try to adjust to the emptiness that was so prevalent in our house. It wasn’t going very well. Hunter, our black lab, knew something was wrong. She kept looking for Mollie, but as time passed, she began to mope and stop eating. I cried – a lot. Two children went back to college. The house became emptier. The other two children struggled along with me.
One afternoon, Dalton finally blurted out what we were all feeling, “Why did God take her? I just don’t understand what purpose this is going to serve.” Those words cut through my heart.
Those kinds of questions are tough ones to answer, especially when we are hurting, too. I shared with him what I had been clinging to all day long: “God I don’t understand. I don’t know what You are doing, but I do know who You are.”
As we sat there, God began to gently show us how involved He had been in the whole unfolding of events and how He had intervened along the way to cushion the blow. For example, the week before Christmas Mollie suddenly quit eating, drinking, and then could barely move. The veterinarian believed that there was some type of spinal injury. We were presented with the terrible choice of spending thousands of dollars with a specialist and putting her to sleep. I knew that we were not in a position financially to spend that kind of money, but at the same time, I could not make the other choice either. We left her at the vet’s office in order to start her on a heavy dose of steroids to see how she would respond. I started praying, “God, please don’t make me choose.”
Mollie made a miraculous recovery and seemed to be on the road to complete healing. We made it through Christmas and New Years. Unfortunately, the next Sunday all the symptoms came back. She was started back on the steroids, and we were once again told what our options would be. Again, I begged God not to make me choose. When we got her home, she had several seizures. The last one left her unresponsive. I slept on the floor beside her that night, crying and asking for a miracle but realizing that God had already answered my first prayer. I would not have to choose between finances and helping my beloved Mollie.
In the end, God said “no” to one prayer but “yes” to another. He demonstrated His love toward me by removing a choice that would have ripped my heart out. As Dalton and I sat there, God gently reminded us of one more thing that He had done out of His great love for us – He allowed her to be with us for one more Christmas. He spared us from having to endure the pain of losing her on Christmas. We had never even thought to ask for that.
There are no coincidences in my life. I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that everything that happens in my life is under the watchful eye of my Father, and I am convinced that nothing touches my life without His permission. Both Dalton and I now recognize that when the hurtful experiences come, we need to stop and look for God’s love and His grace. It’s there. It is always there. We just need to look…just like we look for parking spaces!
One final thought. God even used Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin to remind Dalton and me of one more of His blessings. I just need to change one word because I don’t see myself as lucky…”How blessed am I to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
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