Joey was mad. Mad at God. Mad at Floppy. And a little mad at his mom.
Just last night his mom, Claire, had led Joey and his sister Chloe in prayer for Floppy. Just last night they had pleaded with God to heal the little bunny. And just last night, he and his sister went to bed happy knowing God had heard their prayers.
So, why this morning did he rush to Floppy’s box only to find the little bunny had stopped breathing during the night? Why did he have to tell his sister that Floppy was dead? Why?
All these thoughts ran through Joey’s head as he sat on the cold kitchen floor his arms around Chloe. Claire awoke to find them huddled over the cardboard box where Floppy had spent the last few days.
“Why did he have to die, Mommy?” Joey asked on behalf of his sister who was unable to speak. “We prayed for him. We prayed so hard. Why did God do this?”
Claire wrapped her bathrobe tighter and sat down next to her children. She rubbed their backs as she spoke. “Floppy had something wrong with him,” Claire began, “and God knew that. I believe He cared about Floppy too much to let him keep suffering.”
“But doesn’t He care about us?” Chloe moaned between sobs. Joey hugged her tighter in a protective manner as he looked to his mother for the answer.
“Oh He cares so much for you Chloe. He loves you two even more than I do and you know what?”
Both kids lifted swollen eyes toward their mom. “What?” they asked in unison.
“You are special to God and He knows you are very strong kids. Maybe you will help others because of this…like your friends if one of their pets ever dies. Or maybe help other people down the road. I don’t know exactly, but I do know God loves you and has a plan for you.”
Funeral music played softly. Hushed voices filled the room. People milled about consoling each other and dabbing their eyes. Pastor Joe had been through this scene many times. This time, however, was especially hard.
In the casket lay a ten year old boy named Charlie. Charlie had been plagued with illnesses for years baffling doctors and requiring him to live a very secluded and difficult life. Over the past few weeks, pneumonia had taken over Charlie’s body making every breath painful until the very end.
“Why, Pastor Joe? Why?” Charlie’s mother sobbed on his shoulder. “You know how much prayer went up for my little Charlie. We've even had organized prayer 24 hours a day over the past week. Why did God ignore our pleas for healing? Why?”
Joe took her hands in his, looked her straight in the eyes, and said, “God didn’t ignore your pleas. He answered your prayer.”
Charlie’s mom sat up with a jerk and her face took on a stern expression. She was not ready to hear the mumble jumble about Charlie being in a better place. No, Charlie should be here with her now.
Joe pressed onward, “What if I was a shepherd and you told me about a little helpless lamb who climbed too far up into the mountains? What if you told me this little lamb got so lost he climbed higher than he should have and was finding it hard to breathe? What if I went to that lamb, scooped him up, and brought him home to his safe pasture where the air was perfect for him? Would you think I had ignored you?”
The tears slowed for a moment as Charlie’s mom looked into Joe’s.
“Mrs. Morris, God heard your prayers. He rescued Charlie from this world that was so awful for him. Charlie is safe and healthy now. Mrs. Morris,” Joe leaned in closer, “Charlie can breathe…freely and in huge gulps,” he finished with a grin.
A hint of a smile flitted on the bereaved woman’s face as she pictured her son inhaling heavenly air with the Good Shepherd.
“God chose to bless you with the gift of Charlie because of your strength. You are special to Him. I am honored to sit here beside you on this difficult day.”
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