What I find interesting, is that God has so many ways He can use us if we are willing and available, and sometimes it is in ways we least expect. You see, God uses not just our knowledge and love of Him, but if we are willing, He will also use our knowledge and love of other things to bless His people. Recently I was praying, and wanting to be used by Him to somehow bless and comfort others. But I am not a person with an abundance of money, so I have little to offer Him in that area. I also have osteoarthritis in my knees and a severe back injury, so standing for hours serving soup in a soup kitchen isn't possible either. In fact, I feel I have so little to offer the One who gave me so much.
But soon after this prayer (and realization), I lost a cat I'd had for 8 years, who had been my 'baby.' He had been exceptionally intelligent, intuitive and loving, and when he died so unexpectedly I thought the tears would never stop. He had truly been one of the family and not "just a cat." I didn't understand why he had to die. I had always known he eventually would (and something kept telling me his time was getting close for about a year before it happened), but it still was more than I could bear when it did happen.
I have never experienced the death of a child- and I know that there can be no comparison- but losing him felt as if I had. I grieved just the same, and still do. Every time I see his favorite blanket, or go to bed at night (he always slept curled up around my head on my pillow), or even when I see my laptop (he loved to lay over my wrists while I was typing on my laptop), the pain rips through me afresh.
I expected that I would be ridiculed for 'grieving' the death of a cat. After all, to a lot of people it was "just a cat." But I was so happy to find that the Lord surrounded me with others who, like me, had lost a dearly loved pet. They didn't scoff at me, or minimize my loss. The reason they didn't, and that they understood, is that they also loved their pets and understood that God uses pets as well as people.
Pets provide truly unconditional love and acceptance. They provide warmth and comfort. They are also companions who ease the loneliness of those who are housebound, homeless, or alone. Medical professionals are now beginning to understand the benefits of owning a pet- studies have proven they give people a reason to live who otherwise may see no reason to keep going on. They comfort us and make us feel loved and sometimes a person's pet is the only true friend they have.
God is the Father of all comfort. The next thing I knew, neighbors on both sides of me were told by their vets that their cats were dying. One from a brain tumor, the other from Lymphoma. Then a close friend that I hadn't heard from for a while emailed me and told me her cat, Sammy had died recently (from cancer). Then it seemed everywhere I went, someone's cat was gravely ill, and tears were flowing.
It was then that I began to understand that when we suffer loss, or go through trials, it is so that when we encounter others experiencing those same trials, we will know how they feel, and what they need to hear. We will be able to be an instrument of God's compassion and healing for them because we will have already been in their place. You see, if we are willing, even when we are sure there is no way God can use us, He will find a way- even through such a small thing as our knowledge and love of animals.