It’s been a tough week. Our 10-year-old cat needed an operation because of pyometra. Then after being home for a day, we brought her to the vet again because she was having difficulties breathing. It turned out she had a lot of water in her lungs. She’s still being treated, and we’re still waiting a couple of days to repeat the xray and find out what the underlying cause of her pneumonia is. It’s tough, and it breaks my heart to see her suffering. I am terrified of the prospect of losing her, she is much beloved.
When our pet dog (a beautiful Japanese spitz named Alanis) died, many years ago, I was so traumatized and surprised by the pain I felt that I thought I would never love a dog again. It took a few years for me to allow myself to love another dog, but the death of Alanis really changed the way I viewed pet ownership. I came to terms with the fact that they live so much shorter than we do. When my husband and I decided to get a cat, our first pet together, I mentally fast-forwarded to the moment of the cat’s death, and reminded myself that if we will open our home to a pet, then we should open our hearts too. If we open our hearts, then we need to face the reality that pain is the price we pay for the privilege of loving. If I cannot reconcile myself with the reality of the possibility that our pets will die before we do, then I shouldn’t open my heart to love anything or anyone at all. We are all just passing through this world, after all. Our lives are richer for having opened our hearts to this delicate creature, and now we are in so much pain because she is also in pain.
Our well-meaning Christian friends comfort us by cheering us on, claiming healing for our cat, praying with us, declaring that since their own pet experienced miraculous healing, they know God will do it for us too. I truly appreciate that and I cannot imagine going through this time without those words. But I don’t have the heart to tell them that I believe our lives and the lives of everything around us isn’t ours. God isn’t a cosmic butler who is obligated to do things for me just because I want Him to. People die, pets too. It’s a fact of life, and as much as I want to “claim” the miracle, I know that God doesn’t always intervene. He does always provide His grace, and that’s all I can hang on to right now. I plead with Him humbly for the life of our beloved cat, with silent intensity, in the privacy of my heart.
I sometimes think about how Christians can be trapped into thinking that if they pray hard enough, God moves on their behalf in exactly the way that they want Him to move. Where is the humility in all this? There are Christians who will have you think that these things happen to you because you lack faith, or you didn’t pray hard enough, or you didn’t give enough tithes or offerings. I remember this well-meaning Christian church leader who had the audacity to tell me that I remained childless because I had the wrong desires in my heart, I prayed the wrong prayer, I had the wrong attitude about it, and that he will teach me how to properly pray so that I can get the results that I want. It reduced God to a formula, not a Person. The truth is, this is life. Life is filled with fluid circumstances that changes whether you’re ready or not. Faith must rise above circumstances.
I know that things can end up differently than we hoped, and I know that it could also end up in a miraculous answered prayer. No matter how it ends, I will trust in God.