Boffin Boffin was probably the most important thing in my life.  He was my companion, as well as my comforter.  True he had four legs instead of two, but he understood me.  We could communicate without words.  He taught me commitment superceeded convenience.  He gave me unconditional love when I didn’t deserve it.  He was quick to please and he never sulked or talked back.

But he had this small problem.  He loved to chew metal.  One day he went too far.  He ruined a pair of my husband’s pants.  He, my husband, not Boffin, gave me a choice.  Either he (my husband) or the dog had to go.  I confess, I hesitated before making my choice!

Well, although we did give him away- (the dog not my husband) God brought him back.  He (God, not the dog) knew what was to come into my life.  He knew how much I would need Boffin’s presence and love when my husband chose to leave.

Many years and many adventures later Boff became ill.  I was on vacation and far from home.  The local vet took some tests said that there was something wrong with his blood cells.  It would take several hundred dollars to diagnose the problem.  Even if I’d had the money, I decided that wouldn’t be a good use of it.  Boff was 14 and slowing down.  I prayed:

Dear Lord, please give me wisdom as to what to do.  I pray for Your strength and grace.  Blessed Lord, I am comforted by the joy of knowing somehow this will bring me even closer to You.  You are and will be my rest and my refuge.

Since nothing really could be done for awhile I continued with my plans.  I was to spend a week in a private cabin in King’s Canyon National Park in central California.  More than ever I looked forward to spending some quiet time with my Messiah.

I arose early in the morning to watch the sun rise.  The view from the cabin’s living room was breathtaking.  The colors were awesome.  Never had the trees looked so green or the sky so blue.  It seemed every bird was in song – singing praises to their Creator.  For the Bible says that “The heaven’s declare the glory of God, the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1-2)

With my Bible and jounal on my lap, I cuddled into the softness of the big couch.  I watched Boffin stand up.  He started walking slowly to the couch.

Suddenly he stopped.  He began to tremble.  He was shivering yet it was 85 degrees out.   I will never forget the look of anguish and confusion on his face.

I scooped him into my arms and just held him.  Close.  And I praised God.

I praised God for His gift of the vacation, even tho it now had to end.

I  praised Him for my puppy

I praised Him for the years we’d had together.

The love he’d given me

The lessons he’d taught me

I praised God for Messiah Jesus who promised “never leave me or forsake me”.

Then I began to remember.  I remembered all the adventures that Boff and I had shared.  From kayaking in the waters of Pennsylvania to hiking in the mountains of California.

With each memory came a stab of pain.  O it hurt so much.  My heart felt as tho it would break apart.

But then I remembered when I was a child and was hurt.  Whatever the pain – from a splinter to a scrapped knee, Mother would take my hand in hers.  And she would say, “Honey, squeeze my hand – squeeze hard when it hurts”.

Was she trying to transfer my pain into her body?  Or was she trying to take my attention off my pain and put it on her hand holding mine? Whatever, it worked.

I heard the Lord had say, “Joanie, squeeze My hand“.

And I remembered what the Bible says about God:

Psalm 46 says that God is our ever present help during times of trouble.  The Hebrew actualy translates into, “God, our exceedingly abundantly available” help in times of trouble.”  God’s comfort always available!

Psalm 9 says that God’s comfort is a stronghold in time of trouble

When our whole world begins to cave in on us, we don’t have to be strong.  God is our strength.  The God who made heaven and earth by a single breath and holds it all together by His power, is strong enough for me to lean on.

God is our refuge; when we have no where else to go, we can go to Him.

In the cabin I sat hurting and holding my puppy.  But I knew that I was not alone.

The eternal God is my refuge and underneath me are His everlasting arms! (Dt 33:27)

While I held Boffin, Jesus was holding me.

I saw it.

The hand of my Savior.

The nail scarred hand of God.

He was holding out His hand to me.  His hand would bring me comfort.  His hand would lead me into a place of peace.  A place of refuge from the pain.

“My child, My daughter, here’s My hand.

Squeeze My hand.

When the pain gets too bad, squeeze hard.”

Just like before, as I squeezed, it didn’t hurt quite so bad.

So without letting go of Jesus, I began the slow difficult task of letting go of Boffin.  It wasn’t easy.  But the more it hurt, the more I just kept squeezing that hand.

As Boffin got sicker A simple chorus played over and over in my mind:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.

I turned to Jesus because He knew my pain.  There were not many people that I could talk to.  Let’s face it.  How many people understand the grief of losing a pet?  Some thought I was silly.  Others thought I was being overly emotional.  Others just ignored the situation.  They couldn’t understand my pain.

But not Jesus.  He understood.  After all, He created me in His image.  That meant all my feelings were reflections of His feelings.

We tend to think that God does not understand us.  But there is NOTHING that we feel that He doesn’t feel: sadness, pain, joy, sorrow,

The Bible says “like a father pities His children so does God pity His children”.  In Hebrew that word is RACHAM.  It refers to a deep love (usually of a surperior for an inferior). It is rooted in some natural bond.  RACHAM pictures a sighing which comes from the deepest part of our being.

God has compassion on His people.

God does not consider our feelings silly.

He does not call us emotional.  He does not ignore our pain.

Because God came to earth and lived as a man, there is no experience except sin that He has not experienced.

Jesus saw the needs of the hungry, the lame, the blind and the widow and he had compassion on each and every one.  He fed, He clothed and He healed them all.  And He hurt with them.

Jesus faced the death of a loved one.  And He wept.

And Jesus He faced His own death.  And He agonized over it to the point of sweating blood!

I’ve often thought how awful it must have been for Him.

There was no one to hold His hand when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsamne?  His best friends slept.

No one held His hand when He stood before His critics?  Or before Pilate?  Or before the crowds who shouted for His death?

No one held His hands when He carried His cross through the streets of Jerusalem?

There were no hands to comfort Him at Calvary. Instead hands stretched out His arms and nailed His hands to the cross.

No hand to hold His.

He knows how awful it is to suffer alone.  He died so that we would not have to.  He stretched out His arms on that cross so that now He could stretch out his hand to me.

My child, My daughter,  squeeze My hand.  When the pain gets too bad, squeeze hard.”

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