I picked the puppy up from its home to bring it to her new owners. My best friends recently paid a pretty penny to become the proud, new owners of a wonderful Springer Spaniel named Abby. I arrived early in the morning to pick her up for the journey. She was reluctant to get into the cage and began to cry as she soon realized something terrible was happening. A strange man put her into a strange cage and began to drive away into a strange future away from the comfort she had known since the beginning. She cried and cried and cried for several minutes. The rain and thunder contributed to her fright. I tried to talk softly and tenderly to her as I drove to calm her down and made sure not to turn up my music loud. I felt kind of dumb to speak like that to an animal but it helped. I figured she had never heard music before and surely had never been alone in a cage before, being tossed around and about at every turn. I continued to speak through her little whimpers.
The whining got so bad I decided to stop the car for a moment to hold her at my Church. I opened the cage and after some quiet coaxing, the puppy slowly came forward and then simply melted quietly into my arms. She buried her nose into my chest and just breathed softly until she was at ease. After a few minutes, I put her back in her cage and she then simply went to sleep until arriving at her new home. The two hour drive then was spent looking in the mirror every so often to make sure she was all right as I drove to her new home. She would wake up every so often when I would make a weird turn or hit some bumpy terrain.
We finally arrived at my friend’s house in St. Francisville and I picked her up and prepared her to meet her new family. We walked to the door and knocked. After a few minutes, her new parents opened the door with joy to swiftly take up their new pup in their arms and love her. She immediately had a fresh bowl of food, water, and some toys. She also had the undivided attention of two people who were exuberant over her arrival. She went from being one among seven to having the attention, acceptance, and adoration from two who would raise her and treat her well. It only got better for her as the days went by.
As I reflected on this experience, I think there’s a lot to say about difficult situations God’s people go through and his comfort and nearness in the midst of those trials. When suffering, trials, and hardships come, there is often a greater reality of God’s presence. Have you ever heard someone say, “Jesus was so present in my ease, comfort, and painlessness!” I doubt it. I’ve heard the opposite though countless times. “Jesus was so near in my broken, painful, and difficult times.” He promises over and over again that His children have his ear—especially when they are broken-hearted or downcast. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 147:3 agrees, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Other verses can be given. God’s nearness is our good, especially during trying times. Abby felt safe because of my physical presence. God’s children feel safe and sure when He comes closer within our pain.
Abby the puppy most certainly did not understand what was going on. She lacked the cognitive abilities to do so. Her constant cries and whines were an indication that she was fearful, scared, and unsure. We are like that too in similar situations. God removes, breaks, and ruptures things and we think the world is crumbling around us. He does this many times to give us better things or even to make us better people. A.W. Tozer was right to remark, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” He does not wound or hurt though because He is loveless. He is working all things towards our ultimate good in Christ, especially suffering. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” He says there’s no condemnation for His children (Rom. 8:1) and nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). Abby did not understand but she was loved the whole time. We are too.
Those difficult trials also open up a greater eternity in His presence. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Abby the puppy did not understand something greater was coming despite her pain. We sometimes do not understand and appreciate that too. Something greater is coming and our trying times and experiences now are just making the future reality that much sweeter. We simply need to trust in our adoring and affectionate Father and wait on His timing. Better things are always yet to come for God’s people.