Excerpted from the March / April 2014 issue of Christian Woman Magazine.
“Consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3 NIV84).
Maximillian is not having a good day. Without warning, life has come crashing down around him. He has done nothing to anyone – nothing! Yet here he is, a prisoner, held captive very much against his will. He knows to his bones that he is on his way to pain, suffering and untold agony. He protests loudly and emits threat after impotent threat, hoping to make us (his tormentors) understand the depth of his distress. Surely we will then – in that very minute – take him back home!
Home – the place where Max has a food dish that is always full, the bottom hidden from view to keep him from anxiety about his next meal. The place where an ample supply of fresh, aerated water always awaits his need. The place with not one but two litter boxes, both tidily maintained for his comfort and convenience.
In addition to all these riches, just this morning Max managed to liberate a ball of yarn from a basket. (All balls of yarn in the world belong to him, of course. But we, the people who live in his house, persist in hiding them from him). He spent the better part of an hour unwinding that ball by kicking it around corners and in and out of table legs. The experience was all he could have asked for.
But without warning or provocation (for he is a very good cat), his humans have snatched him up, crammed him into the carrier he despises, and carried him out to the car. He knows full well he is on his way to being poked, prodded and stung by Dr. Dave. And there is not one thing he can do to escape his fate.
Father God, I think I know just how my cat feels.
Like Max, my husband and I also have been wrenched out of our comfort zone. Without warning, my husband’s job has vanished. Both he and I are at a loss to understand why. Uncertain of the future, we find our daily lives altered in ways that leave us shaken. Our trust in people is damaged; our illusion of security, destroyed. We sense that we will not come to the end of this ordeal without much confusion and, most likely, some very painful moments.
But even as Max protests his situation, his little kitty brain chooses to trust me. I am his mistress. Believing that I love him, he hunkers down to accept what he cannot fathom. When I poke my fingers through the wire mesh of his carrier, he nuzzles them, looking to my touch for comfort. When I open the door to pull him out, he howls in dismay; but he does not attempt to bite. I hand him over for his annual shots and irrigation of his tender ears – an act of seeming betrayal that must surely confound him. Even so, when we are at home once more, he seeks my lap and settles in, bearing me no grudge for his ordeal. Purring at full throttle, he taps my hand with his paw, coaxing me to rub his head, certain that I will.
Like Max, I cannot understand the reasons for life’s upheavals. Yet this I believe, Father: We belong to You, our good Master, and You are to be trusted, whether we understand everything You allow to happen or not. As I stroke Maximillian’s silken fur, I think of Your promise in Paul’s letter to the Roman church – that whatever touches us, no matter what it is, will ultimately result in our eternal good. I remember that no adversity, however alarming, is the end of the story. And most especially, I remember that nothing – not even a lost job and broken dreams – has the power to separate us from Your love.
In other words, the time has come for my husband and me to hunker down and accept without rebellion what we cannot fathom. And as Max has demonstrated, accepting means nestling as close as possible to the One who is trustworthy in all circumstances, wise beyond our understanding, and more loving than we can possibly comprehend.
Well, well! Do You hear that, Lord — that sound of contentment? Wonder of wonders, I am learning to purr! o
LaNelle Pierce Eubanks is the wife of Robert E. Eubanks. Twice widowed, LaNelle is the mother of four adult children and the grandmother of 12. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, winning awards for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She and Bob divide their year between homes in three states and are presently living in Colorado, where they worship with the Loveland Church of Christ.