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My mother has a big orange cat named Dundee. Dundee was a rescue kitten, but for the first three years of his life at my mom’s home, he truly only had one problem in the world: my golden retriever. Every time we went away, grandma would have the privilege of looking after my big, submissive dog, and Dundee would spend the entire time hissing and spitting and letting the whole world know that he didn’t approve of the house guest.

That all changed six years ago, when Roxy, my Rag Doll cat, became part of our family. The first time she and her doggy sister went to spend the weekend with grandma, Dundee quickly forgot all about how badly he hated the dog. In fact, the dog suddenly became the “good guy”!

Unfortunately, Roxy hates Dundee as much as Dundee hates Roxy, and it generally takes five days of being with grandma before Roxy finally settles down enough to let someone touch her. As a result, we’ve started leaving Roxy at home whenever we’re going to be gone for no more than two days. The dog still gets to go to Grandma’s, but Roxy stays in the empty house all by herself. I know it sounds cruel, but believe me, she would much rather be at home alone for two days than with her orange nemesis at Grandma’s house.

The first two times the dog went to Grandma’s alone, Dundee didn’t seem to have a problem with her presence. In fact, it was like he was so grateful that Roxy didn’t come that he forgot all about being unhappy. This last time, however, Dundee decided he was going to hate the dog, and the entire two day visit was filled with hissing and spitting, yowling and hiding. It seems Dundee didn’t realize that having only the dog in his house was actually a “gift” to him. 

The whole thing made me think about our reaction when problems come our way. What do we do whenever bad circumstances come knocking at our door? Don’t we worry, complain, cry out to God to remove our circumstances? But what if those “bad” times, whatever they may be, were actually a “gift” of God so that a worse problem can be avoided?

You know what I mean: You get stuck behind a slow truck, and as such, you are late to work. You grumble and complain the entire way, only to learn that there was a bad accident on the highway, one that you might have been involved with, if you hadn’t gotten stuck behind that truck!

What about the time my older son didn’t get the co-operative education job (part of his university requirements) we were all praying he would get. I, for one, was pretty upset that God hadn’t answered our prayers. I then learned I had cancer and would have to go through surgery, etc. The fact that my son didn’t receive that coveted job, which more than likely would have taken him out-of-town, placed him right where he wanted to be while I went through cancer–at home.

Then there was the time my younger son totaled my car. He chose the preferable alternative to a head-on collision and landed the car in a ditch. He came out without a scratch. My poor car, however, was a different story. We were pretty tempted to be upset that this happened. Then we remembered the other alternative, the one that likely would have landed my son in the hospital, or worse, taken his life. Yes, the totaled car with the unscathed teenager looked pretty good at that moment.

The problem is, when we’re going through hard times, we often don’t think realize that there are things these “bad” circumstances may actually be protecting us from; and we don’t see them as “gifts”. We don’t realize that the “despised dog” is a preferable alternative to the “loathed cat”.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything that comes our way is good in and of itself. It just means that God knows how to work good out of those bad situations (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.” Rom. 8:28 NIV).

Dundee is only a cat that cannot reason; but if it were possible for him to look at my dog as the gift that she is, his time with her at his house would be a lot less stressful for him. In the same way, if you choose to look at the things that come knocking on your door as something God can use to His glory, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11 NIV); if you choose to believe that He will carry you through, no matter what (For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Ps. 91:11-12 NIV See also Is. 43:2, Deut. 32:11, Is. 40:11, etc.), then your particular set of circumstances wouldn’t look quite as stressful either.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18)

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” (Rom 5:3)

Think about it!

In His love,

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.