Recently, at the animal hospital where my mother and I have the pleasure of working two days a week, a little dog was admitted who had to have one of her back legs amputated. The surgery had already been completed when I arrived one morning. I peered into the cage and was met with two deep brown eyes staring into mine. Then I saw her body quivering. I spoke some soothing words and walked away to tend to other things that needed to be done.
Some moments later, a sound of whimpering filled the air. I looked around, scanning the cages with our various canine and feline patients, and discovered the whimpering came from our amputee. I walked over and spoke words of comfort once more. The whimpering did not stop; neither did the quivering.
Opening the cage, I began to stroke the little dog, speaking kind words, looking into her eyes. After stroking the dog for several moments, she stood up. I praised her for her bravery at standing on only three legs. She took a step closer to me, turned sideways, and leaned her weight onto me. I was so touched at this gesture of trust. It was also a cry for help. “Make me feel better,” I could almost hear her say. Her entire weight was leaning against me. If I had stepped away, she would have fallen to the floor. I stroked some more and then gently pushed her back inside and closed the door.
Throughout the morning, every time I looked at the dog, she was watching me. If I would come near, she stood in readiness for more stroking and leaning. At one time I took her outside for a little walk. She strutted around in great confidence, as if she didn’t know she was missing a leg. She sniffed here and there with every appearance of dog happiness.
When I returned her to her cage, she licked my hand, then turned sideways again for some more leaning and stroking. I obliged with great joy. When the time came for me to leave for the day, it was with some sadness that I told her goodbye. Of course, I couldn’t go without just one more minute of leaning. It was a sweet moment for both of us.
I kept thinking about the dog as I drove home that day. It came to me that we humans are not unlike the scared little dog who, as far as she could understand, went to sleep with four legs, and woke up with three! How many times do unexpected things take place in our lives, leaving us perplexed, causing us to ask with no little amount of bewilderment, how on earth did that happen? Perhaps the unexpected incident scares us and makes us fearful of what tomorrow might bring. We discover that inwardly we are whimpering and quivering.
The little dog received comfort when she leaned close, putting all her weight onto me. We can do the same. The instruction is given to us in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.”
When difficulties arise, it is a common, human response to try and sort through it ourselves. We definitely lean on our own understanding. While God has given us brains with which to think and reason, He has not made us infallible. We are always capable of mistake. Therefore, isn’t it best to lean upon Him who never gets it wrong, who has all the right words of comfort, who holds all the strength we need, who is the author of peace?
When we lean upon our own understanding, we are only subject to possible insight to solve our problems; but when we lean on Almighty God, we lean on the One who guides us along right paths, not some of the time, but all of the time. When we lean on Him, His comfort floods into our troubled souls and the whimpering and quivering ceases to be.