Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Critical Cat and Signs of Hope

God, the Hope of Israel,
    you have saved Israel in times of trouble.
Why are you like a stranger in the land,
    or like a traveler who only stays one night?
~ Jeremiah 14:8, NCV ~ 

Have you ever noticed that it's often the little things that keep us hanging on?  When life isn't going the way you had planned; when tragedy strikes; when the world's worst-case-scenario becomes our reality, we need something to give us hope.  Emotionally, spiritually, and physically, we may just be hanging on by a thread, but we're still hanging on if we can find something, someone that gives us a sign of hope.  Those little things that encourage us to persist are to us a small indication that God really does care and hears our cries for help.

My family is in just such a season right now.  With 3 hospitalizations this past year, tremendous personal loss of private things we have held dear, setbacks in treatment, and my husband's shocking job dismissal, our family finds ourselves hanging on by a thread.  All 5 of us desperately look around us for any glimpse of hope that things will improve soon.

In the thick challenges of their teen years, our children doubt their Creator's loving hand.  Despite what they have seen and lived since their infancy, repeated views of tragedy righted by God's triumph, each of our kids are like little Israelites wandering in the desert, wishing they were still held captive back in Egypt.  And who can blame them?  They are young and still learning so much about life.  When life seems to hold only pain induced by things like snubbing from a classmate or a break-up with a boyfriend, to their young eyes, all is lost.

As if our major problems aren't enough to wear us to the bone, we have this cat who is in rather critical health.  Honestly, I thought he would be chasing mice in heaven before my husband's pink slip in Mid-October.  He is the eldest of 3 cats at an age of 10 years old.  When we brought our youngest cat home 2 years ago, she bullied him away from the food, causing a precipitous drop in his hefty weight.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, such rapid weight loss in a cat can cause liver damage and extremely poor health, so that the feline has little ability to eat on their own.  The secret to the animal's recuperation is to get it to gain weight and begin eating again.  This initially requires syringe feeding and antibiotics. Since we do not have the money to hospitalize this pet for a rescue, we have done the few necessary things we can to keep him hanging on.

I blush telling you that I literally have been praying for this cat in the midst of our family's tumultuous time.  Yes, I enjoy his matchless fur. (With beautiful medium-length hair, his name, Puff, is most appropriate.)  But that is not why I have been bringing this animal boldly before the Throne of Glory.  Rather, I have been praying for Puff as a symbol of hope to a group of hopeless children.

"Please, Lord," I pray, "This family can't take anything more right now.  Please allow this cat to live, at least until my husband finds a job."

It's ridiculous, yes, but not unprecedented.  Since the dawn of time in Genesis, God has been offering His signs to us.  In Genesis 1:14-15 we read, "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so." (NIV)  This is merely the beginning.  The Lord sent the rainbow as a sign to Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by flood.  Circumcision was a sign of the covenant God had between Himself and His people.  And so many other signs lead up to the promise and prediction of God-made-man in Jesus.  Even the angels give a sign of hope to a group of ragtag shepherds, "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:12, NIV)

In fact, this entire Christmas season is about signs of hope.  If God Himself can take the most insignificant and unglamorous of human births, then just maybe there is hope for us.  If a young maiden and her fiance can witness a miracle despite being away from home and out on the streets to deliver a baby, then maybe we can witness a miracle too.  The Lord shows up in signs and wonders in the most menial and unlikely of places when we are holding on by a thread.

And so, this cat in critical condition lives on.  It may be goofy.  It may be insignificant (especially if you are not a cat-lover).  Yet, our family finds the Lord giving us a sign of hope in this fluffy feline at a time when He knows we need one.  How grateful we are.

PRAY:  (A musical meditation from For King and Country)
~ Barb Dittrich


  1. God cares about cats. He made them. AND He cares a whole lot more about you and yours! I will join you in praying! Love and hugs!

  2. Barb,
    Over the past months I have found encouragement from reading your blogs. I was laid off over two years ago from my job of 13 years due to the failing economy. As a single mom of 3 adopted special needs kids it has been a struggle to say the least! I "get" the pet issue as well - during this time our dog needed surgery and my 17 year old cat died. I will join you in prayer as you deal with unemployment, special needs, and pet issues! Thanks for the reminder to keep looking for signs of hope.