After The Vet

What happens after the vet? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So yesterday, Shiro got a clean bill of health. All is good and I picked him up and brought him home. I had to stop and get gas and I could see him in his carrier while I was pumping. With every move I made, he followed me with his eyes watching to see me.

When we got him home, he came out of the carrier and ran under the bed. For the most part, he’s been scared of everyone. Shiro doesn’t really care for my parents more often just tolerating them, but usually he’s all over me. It wasn’t like that yesterday.

If I tried to get close to him many times, he would run. Sometimes he would let me pet him a little, but if I got way too close, it was running under the bed again. He had a bandage on his leg from yesterday and he was trying to get it off. Fortunately, he did come to me and I took it off, but then it was off to run and hide again.

This morning before I got out of bed, he had climbed on top of me for a little bit. Right now though, he is still under the bed. He does come out to eat, but fear is still dominating him. It’s as if he has completely forgot all the good things I have done for him in the past and is now only looking at the bad experience.

It’s a good thing we’re never like that!

Too often, we are. How many times when trouble comes do I forget the good that God has done for me and only look on that suffering? I don’t understand why God has done this thing to me or allowed it to happen to me, therefore, I will not trust Him. This brings us to how people see the problem of evil.

It all depends on how one looks at God. If one sees Him as a monster. The bad is so awful that if anything good happens, it is just a chance. For the Christian, it is that the good is so good, there must be an explanation for the bad. It reminds me of the book The Man Who Was Thursday by Chesterton. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but it talks about some characters discussing the final main character.

““Then, and again and always,” went on Syme like a man talking to himself, “that has been for me the mystery of (Character whose name I have removed) and it is also the mystery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I am sure the noble face is but a mask. When I see the face but for an instant, I know the back is only a jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think good an accident; good is so good, that we feel certain that evil could be explained.

For us, we know that there is a great good, so the evil must be explainable somehow even if we don’t know it. For the other side, the evil is central. Honestly, I would hope any skeptic would at least want to consider the Christian idea because wouldn’t you prefer there be some meaning to what happens instead of just random chaos? I know I would.

Will Shiro come out and realize that the suffering he experienced didn’t happen because I want to hurt him, but because I love him? I’m sure he will soon. He’s starting to warm up bit by bit. That’s the minor question.

The real question is, will I realize the same in my own life?

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Shiro and the Vet

What can we learn about suffering from pets? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m taking a break from the series now to write about what is going on with me today. As I write this, it is around 8:35 and I am sitting at a Starbucks with my tea right next to me (None of those pagan coffee drinks) when I would more normally be waking up and have my little cat Shiro nuzzling me waiting for his food machine to go off so he can get breakfast.

Not today.

This morning, I got up at 6:30 instead, and called to Shiro when I didn’t see him. He came out from under the bed and I indicated to him I wanted him to jump up, which he eagerly did. A moment later, he regretted it. I held him and headed towards the door and then he knew what was coming. I had his kitty carrier in the bathtub in our big bathroom and had it already open as I put him in.

It’s a real chore honestly. It takes a lot of planning.

No. There’s nothing wrong with him as far as I know. He just has to have his regular shots, a dental cleaning, and I’m getting his nails trimmed while he’s under. Unfortunately, little Shiro understands none of this. For him, he’s gone without his breakfast and would much rather be at home and doesn’t understand why the only person in this world he now trusts is treating him this way.

You see, since the divorce, I have been with my parents and sometimes Shiro tolerates them, but he doesn’t trust them yet. I’m the only person he regularly comes close to and the only one who gets to hold him. He especially likes it if I lay down on the bed and he gets to be on top of me. He can sit like that for several minutes. He’ll often rub his face in mine, something I refer to as a kitty kiss.

This morning, I suspect he feels betrayed. If I loved him, I wouldn’t do this. Right? I would hear him crying on the way to the vet. I could picture him asking why I would do this if I loved him so much.

It’s interesting that we ask the why question.

In my Bible reading of the Old Testament, I am going through Job now. I contend that Job is not really about why bad things happen to good people. It’s asking why we are good in the first place. However, Job seems to want to know why what is happening to him is happening to him. Naturally, his friends think they have the answer which means of course, they were first-year seminary students.

It’s odd that Job argues against them while at the same time assuming to accept what they say. He wants his day in court. He wants to show he’s innocent. After all, the only reason he could be suffering is that he is being judged. Right?

Somehow, we often think a why answer would help us every time. Who is to say it would? Who are we to say we would even understand the answer.

As I type this, I think about my friend Ed. I spoke with him in person just last month at ETS and he has a hard life indeed as he has an unknown disease and a number of times has been at the hospital assured his time has come, but he is still here. Ed is a great servant of Jesus and in my own suffering in divorce has reached out to me a number of times.

And just after our meeting his 17 year-old daughter died suddenly.

I can’t imagine what that would be like. I’m not going to try. Even more unbelievable is he has contacted me through text message in this time saying he is sorry he hasn’t reached out to me. I tell him to please not worry about that and I mean it. I need to be there for him this time, and I do sometimes send him Bible verses about the resurrection.

Now I don’t doubt that God could show up and explain why this has happened. He could, but while Ed is a smart man, would he understand it? Would any of us? We’re talking about a being who knows the end from the beginning and can tell you everything that has happened in the story thus far and everything that will happen.

Also, is a good God obligated to prevent every kind of suffering we have here? I’m reading a book now called When Helping Hurts. It’s about how we can say we want to help the poor, but what we do really hurts them instead. Consider it like the little boy who wants to help the butterfly get out of the casing he’s in, so he breaks it. He thinks he’s helping. He’s just killed the butterfly. It’s in breaking out that it develops the strength it needs to be a butterfly. Without that, it dies.

One of the writers talks about being in a sort of slums area that he thinks is God-forsaken when he finds a church. He is invited to preach and being a good Presbyterian decides he will speak some on the sovereignty of God. He thinks that until he hears the prayer requests, such as a woman wanting protection since her husband beats her or for God to provide food for the children of someone in the congregation who are hungry.

This pastor knows about the sovereignty of God from his study of the text. These people know about having to depend on it for their very lives. One guess who really got the lesson on the sovereignty of God that day. Amazingly, those people, who are suffering far more than most of us in the western world are, have more trust in God and rejoice more in His goodness. Prideful skeptics here might call it delusional hope. Perhaps they should try to talk to those people some first and just really listen.

It’s part of our entitlement mentality. We all think we’re entitled to a life without suffering and God is there to aid in our joy and to keep us from evil and if He’s not doing that, well He’s not doing His job. Yes. God has His job and He is obviously our employee and if He doesn’t do the work, He’s not worth it.

It’s really an arrogant position.

It’s also not as if God does this for His enjoyment. Sure, I’m sipping a tea here in Starbucks and typing a blog and watching the people come in here, but if you asked if I would have rather been staying at home and doing all this work from there and then playing some Final Fantasy XIV with friends, it’s definitely the latter. I’m not a morning person. I’m a night owl. I’ve been going to bed earlier this week to prepare. (Fortunately, God in His grace let me have my Dad’s bronchitis so I didn’t have to work. Yes. Another interesting way suffering works for our good.)

I would like to be able to explain to Shiro that I love him despite what he sees. You who are reading this, regardless of your attitude towards cats, know that what I have done for Shiro is ultimately a loving thing and if I didn’t do it, you would have grounds to question my love for Shiro. It’s odd, but if I withheld this suffering from him, I would not be loving.

Part of my problem with arguments from evil is people who make them presume too much. They presume there is no good reason for this, that they have to understand the reason, and that God owes them to not have this evil suffering. It’s important to note that the problem of evil is the burden of the skeptic. They have to demonstrate there is no good reason for a particular suffering. Good luck with that. I don’t have to know why a particular suffering has happened and frankly, why should I know that? I consider myself a smart man, but I don’t think I would understand it either.

After all, I don’t understand yet why God allowed me to meet a girl who would ten years later shatter my heart in a divorce that was unjustified and call me abusive. I still don’t understand it, but I have held on to Him in the midst of it and that has been my hope. Friends assure me that sometime down the road, I will see this as a blessing, and in some ways, I do see good coming from it now, but I still wait for more. I especially hope to someday soon meet another girl who I can bring joy to.

And as I think about that, it brings me to something else about suffering and knowing why it happens. Most of us hate it if we’re watching a movie and someone spoils what happens in it for us. Strangely, we think we should have spoilers for our own life given to us. This is a story that we are in, but it is His story and we are just minor bit roles in it, though there is still something great planned even for us.

In a few hours, I will be picking up Shiro. Before too long, he will be snuggling with me again. Maybe not tonight as my Dad and I are going to see Christmas lights, but eventually, he will give me his trust again and be happy.

Will I give the one who watches over me the same and be happy just being with Him?

That’s up to me.

And for you, that’s your choice as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

If Cats Were Philosophers…

What would happen if felines held a symposium? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you who are friends of my wife and I on Facebook might have seen us posting last week about our cat Shiro. I noticed recently that he wasn’t eating like he should be. He was normal in all other respects, but not really touching his food. We took him to the vet one day who tried to do some work but, well, Shiro isn’t that cooperative at the vet. (Fun fact. Playing a Catholic chant a friend sent us on the way calms him down which means I’m Protestant, my wife leans Orthodox, and our cat is apparently Catholic, or is that CATholic?)

The vet suspected it was a dental issue and we scheduled to bring him back the next day. Both days we had to catch him and put him in his kitty carrier which he was not happy about at all. The second day, they kept him for most of the day including some anesthesia so they could look at his teeth.

For the next couple of days, I was concerned. I noticed he wasn’t eating and he was sometimes vomiting and his litter box stunk more than usual. Through an app, I contacted a clinic that told me that it was at this point normal. Shiro had had some anesthesia and this can be a side-effect and now was not the time to worry. He was right. This morning, Shiro was right there when I woke up and wanting his breakfast.

Whenever this happens, I wonder what it would be like if cats were philosophers. What if Shiro is sitting at the vet while we’re away and pondering what is going on around him? What would he be saying?

“I could have sworn these people said they loved me, but this sure doesn’t seem like love to me! Why would these people put me in this enclosure where I cannot roam free and take me to this place? All these people I don’t know want to prod me and stick these sharp objects in me. I don’t know what they want. How can I trust them? These people who claim they love me meanwhile just sit by the side and watch and do nothing.”

I can easily picture a symposium of cats getting together talking about the evils of those put over them. All of them writing papers on how the evil overlords do not really love them and care for them. After all, why would they allow them to go through with something like this? (Especially getting fixed. Ouch!)

Every time we have to take Shiro to the vet, I ponder this. When we got him home, we had to give him some medicine from a syringe. My wife would hold him and I would try to squirt it in his mouth when she tried to open it. It certainly wasn’t easy. It’s not easy either when we have to give him his monthly flea medicine, but that at least doesn’t require forcing his mouth open.

I often ponder that I wish there was a way I could explain it to him, but the knowledge level between a cat and a human being is vast. It cannot really be bridged. We think in categories that cats cannot.

Yet at the same time, the questions I think Shiro could ask are often the questions we, including myself, can ask of God when evil takes place? The cat could say “If I was a human, I would not do this,” but we as humans know better. This is for Shiro’s good.

The difference between us and God is far greater than cats and ourselves. This is one reason evil really can get me emotionally, but doesn’t really persuade me as a problem for theism. If I have strong arguments that God exists and Jesus was raised from the dead, then I just have to accept evil as it is. I don’t understand the reality of it and I should fight against it, but it doesn’t really count against God for me.

And when we get set to take Shiro to the vet, I wish he would just be calm and trust us and when he’s there, I wish he’d do the same.

Maybe I should do the same with someone who knows better too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters