Daily Devotions

Suffering Puppies Break My Heart

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But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” (Job 12:7-10)

Don’t hate me for my confession. I can watch movie after movie, with literally hundreds of human beings dying fictional deaths and I feel little. Oh, I can blame Hollywood, or something else, but the reality is much the same. But, have an animal suffer at all, and I am a bowl of mush. I will leave a theater before watching a painful dog movie. I have yet to see “Marley and Me.”

Am I a bad person? Perhaps a little. Yet, there is some comfort in not being alone. I would bet I am not the only one who has a special affinity for pets. My worst theological angst was for a dipstick Assembly of God minister in Minocqua, Wisconsin, who answered a little boys request, “Pastor, will my dog go to heaven.” This “man of God’s” response? “No!” This blow hole went on to tell the little boy in his hometown newspaper that nowhere is there a reference in the Bible to pets going to heaven, so your puppy will not be there when you die.

Even my wife wanted me to write an editorial telling the minister that the little boy would see his puppy in heaven long before he’d see his miserable pastor with wings of his own. But, then I calmed down and just preached on it the next Sunday and am still writing devotions about it 29 years later. But don’t worry, he didn’t get under my skin! Darn it!

I do feel bad that I have lost my entertainment compassion for humans being murdered out by fictional assassins. But I will continue to be moved by the hurt placed on our pets. Perhaps it is because pets are so vulnerable. Children who are abused in real life or on the silver screen have the same affect on me that puppies have on my psyche. I pray that everyone will come to realize that all God’s creatures are vulnerable and in need of care. Sometimes the most violent among us are the most in need of care. Pray for the adults who are easy to forget about, because they are no longer cute. They, too, suffer and need God’s love and our care. But continue to pray for little children and pets, that they may experience security and love throughout their lives.

Stuck No More

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The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

I was talking with someone not long ago who said she was feeling stuck. The rut of being in a job that no longer brings you joy can be frustrating. You begin to look at the working years you have remaining and wonder if you can keep it up. We prayed together, but I didn’t have any real answers that would bring concrete assistance. Then I read Tim Denning’s article, “What You Can Do If You Feel Stuck in Life and Don’t Know What to Do.”

Denning could have helped my friend a lot more than I did. Denning provides a few ways to get unstuck: First, you can “See your situation for what it is.” Considering how you perceive the life you are in will help you learn how to recover your passion. Second, “Get some external advice from someone who knows you.” Prayer is helpful, because the Holy Spirit can guide your way through to a new place and/or new appreciation for your present life experience. Getting advice from someone may motivate you to make a decision, to risk a change, or recommit to your present situation with more vitality.

We all need a vacation. Denning challenges us to “Visit a land far, far away.” Going somewhere different from where you are, can give you the perspective you need. But rather than going somewhere beautiful and fancy, try going on a mission trip vacation. Sometimes the best medicine is being reminded of what we already have and the blessings around us that not everyone experiences.

Finally, if you are still stuck, just work your way through it. Even if your heart isn’t into it, keep plugging away. There is something to be said for the phrase, “Fake it till you make it.” Today, pray for those who are frustrated with their life situation, and thank God if you are in a contented place in your life. If you are stuck in your life situation, don’t just fall into depression or rage. Try Denning’s plan, and don’t forget to invite the Holy Spirit into the process. When you work at it, you will find new and even more meaning in your life.

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