Painful Promises

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I made myself a promise. A promise to keep myself from getting hurt and to avoid pain by not getting a specific something ever again. I have kept that promise for over 2 decades and I thought by doing so I would avoid pain.

But as with most things in life, that specific pain came full circle this week and revisited…in a different form. 

This past Monday started out fairly normal. I didn’t have much planned for the day other than cleaning, laundry, car pool in the afternoon, and an evening coaching appointment. However, I got a phone call around 9:30am that changed my itinerary for the remainder of the day.

My sister called and asked if I would go with her to Cary. Her beloved miniature dapple dachshund, Ozzie, was in tremendous pain and needed to see a veterinarian who could perform surgery on his back. Without hesitating I said of course and we met and drove to Cary.

Ozzie was in a lot of pain, but my sister was in just as much pain. My mind drifted back to that little girl of 10 or 11 who lost her bulldog when he got run over by a car. Tears flowed easily…that specific something had reappeared and I was also in pain, for Ozzie and for my sister.

We arrived at the veterinarian’s office and things seemed to go into overdrive. I felt as if things were moving too fast. Ozzie was FINE the night before, walking, eating, barking…but, now his life was in danger. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to protect my little sister and make everything all right. But, I could do nothing but be there for her and pray.

In the end, Ozzie crossed over to the other side. I was honored to be there with my sister when he left us. I would have done anything to create a different outcome, but in the end, I could only be with her in her pain.

I have thought a lot about the pain we experienced by losing Ozzie. It is ironic that we celebrated Thanksgiving this week. I have been pondering all the things I am thankful for as well. Those two things don’t often make a good partnership, pain and thanksgiving…I can think of many other pairings that would make a great marriage. Again, it just doesn’t make sense to be thankful for pain.

But, God calls us to be thankful in all things (I Thes. 5:18). All things…not just the good things. I can choose to be thankful in the midst of pain and suffering, and it is much easier when I know that I can trust God no matter what happens because He is trustworthy. He is sovereign. He is omniscient. Knowing God’s character is paramount. It enables me to trust Him and His plan, and therefore, be thankful in all things.

In the end, I am not thankful that Ozzie is dead, but I am thankful for God’s presence, for Him being with me and for the gift He gave me of being with my sister. I am thankful that I have a sister whom I love dearly. I am thankful for a gracious God whom I can trust with my tears and pain.

There will be more painful times in life when I cannot find anything to be thankful for because the pain is so heavy. However, even in the midst of the pain I experienced this week, God was with me. Just like I could be with my sister. And for that, I am very thankful.

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