a tail of trial

(Yes, "tail." Just keep reading.) 

I've spent a lot of time reading this week, trying to catch up on some of the titles I've been given and recommended over the years. One book was "Glorious Ruin," by Tullian Tchividjian. His book was about suffering, the confusing and heartbreaking topic that have caused some to doubt God, and caused others to leave their faith entirely. In "Glorious Ruin," Tchividjian doesn't write as much about the Why of suffering, or even the How of suffering, as much as the Who. In the midst of times where you might feel in a fog, or in a tailspin, or lost, or just completely broken, the Why and How might help. But ultimately, if I know Who God is in my suffering, I can rest in His arms and trust in His character even while I'm broken.

So, it was a good book. I finished it mid-morning yesterday, stuck it back on the bookshelf, and filed the information in my mind for when I need it. 
I found my dog, Boo, stuck her leash on, and put her in the car. This is highly unusual for her, so she knew something was up. She laid down in the backseat as the car started moving, getting up occasionally to look around. When we pulled into the parking lot at Wilco, she knew what was about to happen. The horrifying trimming of the nails.

When I was seven years old, I begged and begged and begged for a puppy. I even had a dream that I had a puppy, and when I woke up I ran to mom asking where my puppy went, only to learn that it had all been a dream. But in January 2002, mom and dad made my dream come true, and Boo has been my faithful friend ever since. Boo has always been pretty skittish (I had no idea how ironic her name would become when I gave it to her twelve years ago). She's scared of thunder, which led to a fear of guns, and lawn mowers, and vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators, and electric toothbrushes. No joke. She may be part Border Collie, but she's lacking the courage that generally comes with the breed. And getting her nails trimmed is just about the height of all her fears. 
She wouldn't get off the carpet entrance mat inside the automatic door at Wilco. I told her, "Come on, it's okay, it's okay, you're a good girl," over and over again, but it didn't matter. She wouldn't touch the smooth linoleum flooring. Her tail ducked in between her legs. Finally, after several minutes of coaxing, I pulled her off the mat. She hated me for it, and shook with fear as she wobbled across the floor through the stacked aisles of pet supplies toward the groomer. When we walked into the groomer's office, she was still trembling, and obviously reconsidering the trust she has placed in me before. The groomer, though gentle and calm and reassuring, had to get down and trim those nails. Boo was shaking all over, sitting on her tail, and I held her tight in my arms, partially to keep her from moving and hurting herself, partially to make the process go faster, and partially just so she would know I was in control. 
 Whoa, look at that spiritual parallel. 
Of course, Boo represents us in this parallel, though I hesitate to say that we are nearly as faithful and loyal to our master as any dog. But that's another post. Yesterday, I saw Boo trembling in fear, not understanding what was happening, and even potentially feeling pain as her nails were trimmed. I couldn't explain to her what was going on, but because I loved her, I also couldn't let it go undone. I had to trust that she also would trust me because she knows I want to do what's best for her. 
Our trials and sufferings in life don't compare to trimming a dog's nails. But in the moment, they may seem just as confusing and frightening. We know have a master who loved us enough to suffer and die Himself for our sake. And if our master loved us that much, we can trust Him in our suffering. He doesn't promise to explain Why we suffer or How we should grow in it, but He promises to be with us always, to hold us in His arms as we tremble and shake. Whether we feel Him or not, He has promised, and He is faithful. And as we learn to trust Him for Who He is, we love Him more than ever before. 
Boo is sitting next to me right now. And even after the trials of yesterday, when I look at her and reach down to pet her, she wags her tail. 


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