In the two months since my dog, Abby, died, our cat, named Mister, has assumed some of Abby’s duties. Both Abby and Mister have no tails. Mister is a Manx (he looks like a little bobcat), and Abby was an Australian Shepherd (Aussie). Aussies are called velcro dogs. They stick close to your side at all times. Wherever I went, Abby was always near me for all of her 15 years of life.
As I write, Mister is lying at my feet just like Abby used to do. He now follows me throughout our home. Until Abby’s death, Mister never did any of this. He did cat things. Mister has also taken over Abby’s old place of vigilance on our kitchen floor. From this vantage point, Abby could view four of the rooms in our home where her humans spent most of their time throughout the day. This position allowed Abby to make sure we were all safe. Since Abby died, I now find Mister laying in Abby’s old spot of canine vigilance.
Mister is teaching me something about God. We all know the verse where God promises never to leave us or forsake us. In times of loss, that has become the go-to verse for many of us. The fulfillment of the promise in that verse is not limited to a warm and reassuring feeling. It can have a tangible expression.
In all the years I have followed the Lord I have noticed something. To help us not feel alone or abandoned, God will fill our void with an expression of His love that was not anticipated. Mister is now filling a role once held by my beloved Abby. Some people who lose a spouse could never imagine that void of sorrow being filled with another person until that person walked into their life. Jan’s parents faithfully served as missionaries for over 30 years, and 5 years before their retirement, the missions agency retirement program went bust. In the remaining years, God not only replenished the damaged retirement account of my in-laws but took them past their original investment into a new place of unexpected blessing. God never leaves our life vacant of an expression of His love.
Today, look with the eyes of faith at your empty place. It takes faith to interpret loss healthily because endless sorrow and unbridled despair are also vying for that place in your life. As you take that second look, you might see something lying on the floor in front of you just like Mister is doing. Someday, if we get another dog, Mister will go back to being a cat. Right now, he is doing his best trying to be a dog-cat on assignment from God. That loving performance brings a smile to my face and a sense of hope in my heart. Both of those feelings affirm for me that our God will never leave us alone in our most painful empty place without a reassuring expression of His love.