If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you know it’s been a challenging couple of weeks. It actually started in August with some divine discipline, and continued into September/October with acute depression – in part because this is the time of year I suffered loss. And then everything came to a head over the last two weeks in despair and hope.
To back up, two weeks ago, my husband was in New York so we did not get to celebrate his birthday together. He was concerned about leaving our family because I was barely functioning through my depression at the time. I also had walking pneumonia (or something like it) and did not know it, and which certainly did not help. My heavy lungs were a physical manifestation of how heavy life felt. During that week, I sought advice on a forum for what to do with my biting dog, and was shocked to see that the main advice given was to put him to sleep. I was also praying for a friend’s 3-yd old daughter who was facing a life-threatening surgery, plus another friend who seemed to be losing her battle against cancer, when I got the news that an old friend from my days in NY had just died from cancer when I didn’t even know she was sick. I couldn’t stop crying.
My husband came home in time for the weekend, and together we prayed that Hunter would never bite anyone again. My friend’s daughter came through the surgery like a champ, and is now home (!), and I had the comfort of my husband’s presence when I needed to go to SOS Medecin with a urinary-tract infection (and where I was finally diagnosed with a “bronchite pneunomie”). Things seemed to be getting better (except for the rat swimming up from the sewer into our toilet bowl).
But then Hunter nipped William again on Monday, and we knew we needed to take urgent action. We tried to set up an appointment with the vet to seek advice (do we have to euthanise him?) but couldn’t get an appointment until Friday. And then Tuesday was our anniversary, but I had a fever and had spent a lot that day crying about our dog so we didn’t celebrate. By the time we met with the vet on Friday, he said that euthanising was indeed the best option, because the SPA would exacerbate his aggressive tendencies, and he would probably be put down after having lived a miserable stint in a small cage. We had been trying to re-home him for a year (some periods more urgently than others) so we didn’t have any hope of that being an option, and the breeder had refused to help. So we set an appointment to put him to sleep in a week’s time.
But in the height of irony – we decided to go out with the kids after the vet appointment (of whose recommendation they were blissfully unaware) to try and put aside the heavy weight on our hearts. We went to a nearby amusement park, took a detour coming home, and got stuck in standstill traffic for an hour and a half, allowing some local criminals the time to rob our house.
And our “vicious dog” … did nothing to stop them.
We must have interrupted the robbers because they left the computers and camera (and the upstairs window open). But they took all my 24k gold, an antique pocket watch, a gold and aquamarine ring my mother gave me, a gold and pearl necklace in the shape of a cross that my great-grandmother gave to my grandmother when she left for WWII. And all three Nintendo DS games, plus 300€ cash.
Oh, and they ran off with our sense of security in having a safe home.
I have to say I was doing better though, and my husband and I both took the discovery in stride. I had been using two inhalers and it was finally dislodging the heaviness in my chest, and I was grateful to have such a clear answer about what to do with our dog, even though the answer was painful. At least we were no longer in doubt after two years of trying to make it work. So the robbery just seemed like another thing on our plate, and not a blow too hard to deal with.
On Sunday we taught the kids’ class at church. It was the story of how Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac, and how at the last minute he was spared from having to do such a painful, dreadful thing. The story parallels God’s having to sacrifice his own son, Jesus, and – like a sudden flash – it inspired me with faith.
Maybe God will not ask me to sacrifice my dog.
You will probably laugh at me for interpreting it that way, but nevertheless, I did. And on the faith I gleaned from the story, I attempted a last-minute posting to re-home Hunter in three places – once again, even though it had never before come to fruition. A few suggestions/possibilities fell through, but I was able to be in contact with someone who is part of an association that is against euthanisation and works hard to find solutions to rescue the dogs. And then I waited.
Wednesday morning, I woke up so heavy as the deadline to put our dog to sleep drew near. It had all just been too much – the illness, the loss, the worry, the grief about our dog, the robbery – the rat!!! I’m not sure why, but in searching for a random passage in the Bible, I flipped to Isaiah 40 – the ending of which chapter says:
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (27-31)
As I read about the weak increasing in power, and the weary gaining strength, I began to be fortified and look at everything more positively. (The effects of my morning coffee probably also helped). And then there was that scripture about eagles again, just like on the mountain!
About an hour later, I got a call. My contact had good news! She put me in touch with a refuge in Germany that specialises in rehabilitating Hunter’s breed, and not only will they take him, but there is also a doggie carpool that will bring him there. So today’s appointment will not be to kill my dog (sob) but to put a microchip in his ear so he can legally pass the border. I could just weep.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4: 7-12)
Yes, there are other things going on. I am still praying for my friend who is fighting for her life. Her name is Marie and her two sons are the age of Gabriel and William. If you pray, pray for her too. We have our own health scare in the family, which is probably fine, but I’m never at ease until the results come in. Our financial problems have not been resolved, but there have been some rays of light poking through. For instance – though part of our home renovation loan was rejected, and our water heater is on its last legs, and our roof about to crumble to bits, and our car in need of more repairs than it’s worth – the delay in our loan procedure resulted in a lower interest rate, I was able to gain a few more students to earn more money, and we have a few items we can sell. It will all work out in the end.
The other night, when it finally dawned on William that our dog would not be coming home afterwards, and he was downstairs wailing and explaining to his best friend, Hunter, what would happen to him: “You’ll be going away and you will never see us, ever again …” it was a healing kind of cry because we were able to reassure our son in all truth that Hunter would be going to a better place.
Sometimes, despair is only a pit stop on the way to deliverance.