“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” (John 11:33-35, ESV)
During my senior year in high school, my family received a surprise… puppies! These little, white fluff balls that could fit in the palm of my hand quickly grew to resemble polar bear cubs! They were adorable! I had never had a dog of my own, and I couldn’t resist asking my parents if I could keep one of these darling puppies. My parents said yes – I just had to pick one!
As I sit here writing this, my little puppy, whom I named Tanner, has grown to be a senior dog. He is currently sleeping on the floor next to my chair, enjoying the sun from the sliding glass door. He is now ten years old, and we have been through a lot in those ten years. I have often said that my life didn’t really begin until I graduated high school, and Tanner has been there for all of it. He has seen my best days and my worst days; he has rejoiced with me in celebration and he has comforted me when I was sad. He has been my friend and a true blessing from the Lord. God has used Tanner to show His love and care for me in more ways that I can count.
A few years ago, Tanner became very ill. I noticed that he wasn’t eating with his usual gusto. I thought that was strange, so I checked his temperature to find out that he had a fever. After taking him to the vet, we discovered that his liver values were dangerously high. I was advised to hospitalize him. For several days, Tanner’s condition deteriorated. He was not doing well. Finally, he responded to a steroid and began to eat again. Gradually, he perked up, and I saw him returning to his normal self. I was thrilled to have my dog back. However, I didn’t realize the toll this sickness had already taken on him and how it would change our lives in the future.
Since this began, we have managed Tanner’s condition and, for the most part, he has done exceptionally well. Unfortunately, that changed earlier this year. In February, Tanner had a flare up and had to go back on the previous medication; however, this time, it wasn’t helping. We introduced a different medication, and he responded well for the first few months, but last week he began exhibiting symptoms of lethargy and had a fever. We took him to the hospital and his blood work revealed that we were back where we had started.
We have struggled to make him comfortable over the last week; trying to manage his medication to keep his fever from spiking while encouraging him to eat so that he can maintain his strength and reduce nausea from the antibiotic. The stress from worrying about Tanner has taken a physical toll on me, and I have struggled to find peace the last few days. I knew that I needed to turn to the Lord in prayer but was discouraged by my own thoughts – does God care about my dog? Is Tanner important to him? Does God think I am being silly for being so upset over a dog?
I went searching through the scriptures and what was revealed to me is seen in today’s verse:
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept,” (John 11:33-35, ESV).
In this verse, Jesus has returned to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus; three siblings who were close friends of Jesus. Jesus had received word that Lazarus was ill and had traveled to their home. Upon His arrival, Jesus is told that Lazarus has died, and He asks to be taken to the place where Lazarus is buried. Within the next few verses, Jesus performs a miracle: He raises Lazarus from the dead. But the part of the verse that I want to focus on is not found in the account of His miracle; it is found in the description of His compassion for Mary and Martha. You see, Jesus knew that He would reunite Lazarus with his loved ones and that their mourning would soon be turned to joy. But upon seeing Mary and Martha in such distress, it says that Jesus was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled,” and that “he wept” with them. He didn’t condemn them for their lack of faith or rebuke them for being upset; He joined with them in their sorrow because he was moved by compassion. He showed His love for the sisters by affirming their pain.
In the same way, Jesus loves and cares for us when we share our struggles and sorrows with Him. He doesn’t roll his eyes at me for being upset about my dog; nor does He condemn me for my lack of faith. We have a compassionate, empathetic, and loving savior who wants to hear our prayers and longs to give us comfort. Not only does Jesus rejoice when we rejoice, but He also mourns when we mourn and has deep and abiding compassion for us.
I do believe that God cares about Tanner; Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made,” (ESV). God cares for all of His creation, including my beloved dog; but God also has compassion for me in my fear and weakness because of the unchanging, unwavering love of Jesus Christ. So, the next time you are wrestling with whether or not your struggles and fears are important to God, remember the mercy and grace of Jesus and be encouraged, dear friends, that we have a savior who loves us more deeply and wholly than we could ever imagine.