Yesterday was rough. I got a call from my wife while I was at lunch telling me that our son had been bit by a dog while they were at the veterinarian’s office. One of our rats, Oliver, had gotten sick unexpectedly the day before and so my wife had taken him in to get diagnosed. As they were finishing with the vet my son went to throw something away in the lobby and that’s when a man’s dog bit him, twice. The bites were on his leg and wrist and from what she could tell they were not deep but my wife was scared, crying, and could hardly explain the situation to me over the phone. I knew which hospital she was taking him to so I got in my car and left work so that I could meet them there.
On the way to the hospital I prayed—for my son, for my wife, and for wisdom on how to address the situation. More than those things though I worshiped the Lord. That’s not easy to do when your normal, everyday pattern is disrupted and your family has been hurt but I trust God, I trust his word, and I know there is nothing better than to press in with worship during days like this. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5.
When I arrived at the hospital I was surprised to learn that the dog’s owner had come as well. He was an older man, and I could tell that he was probably just as shaken up by the whole thing as my wife was. While the nurses and Physician’s Assistants were looking over my son and cleaning the wounds I continued to pray, this time for the dog’s owner and for what I was supposed to do. Law suits, pressing charges, and making the owner pay the bill—these were all things that crossed my mind—but I had no idea how I should actually respond. “Lord give me grace, help me to extend grace; give me wisdom on what to do. I just don’t know.”
We needed some information about the dog’s medical history so I went out into the lobby to speak with the man. We talked for quite a while and I got to know him a bit better—his work, his family, his own emotional turmoil over the situation. He was really worried this would turn into a long term traumatic event for my young son. I hadn’t seen the dog myself but apparently at 125 lbs. he was only 15 months old; a cane corso mastiff. Honestly I was shocked at how little the wounds were given how massive the animal must have been. We talked the entire time I was waiting for the PA to finish with the bandages and all the while in the back of my mind I was praying, “God give me wisdom, give me grace.”
When my wife and the kids finally did come out I could tell my son was feeling much better. He was hugging his stuffed “wolfy” and smiling at his sister. My wife and I both talked a little more with the man when eventually I shared with him something I had been thinking in the car on the way to the hospital. “Our rat got sick at a certain time, my wife took him in at a certain time, you were there at that same moment in time and all these things could have aligned differently. But they didn’t, and God is sovereign over all these things.” Or at least I said something along those lines and that started a brief conversation about God.
Before we left we exchanged numbers but I really felt like I should have invited him to our church and so I did. “My wife and I have been wanting to get back to church for a long time,” he told me, “we just needed someplace to go.” Days like this do not seem to be going according to plan, or at least not what I had planned. I’m not glad that my son was bit, nor am I happy that Oliver was sick. But I am thankful that my day was straightened out by God in order to lead our family to this man. God is mysterious and his ways are most certainly not our ways, but they are most certainly good. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. For those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28.
Oliver died later that night, and I can’t answer my daughter’s question as to why he had to get sick; why he had to die. All I know is that he did get sick, he did die, and we had an opportunity to minister to someone because of it. Days like this aren’t unique to my family, nor will this be the last one we experience; that’s just life. But I trust God. I trust that he hears my prayers, knows my heart, and whether I understand or not I trust that he will exercise every ounce of his immeasurable strength, wisdom, kindness, and love for our good.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7