Meet Toby Zeegler/Stanley*:
Yes, ladies and gentleman, despite all my commitment issues and selfish tendencies, I have thought it best for my sanctification to invite this little guy to depend on me and eat my stuff and pee on my rug.
So far I have learned that I am even more selfish than I thought. I have also learned that my love is very conditional. When puppy is good I love him. When he looks sweet I love him. When puppy barks I want to destroy him. When puppy is destructive I want to beat him. (Don’t fear dog lovers, I will do neither).
The most frustrating thing about this whole thing is that I don’t know what’s best for puppy in every moment. I don’t know what puppies are created to do. I treat puppy the way I would want to be treated, but we’re different. I may be puppy’s owner, but I am not puppy’s creator.
The weird thing about puppy is that even though I have no idea what I’m doing (and my keyboard is worn out from google-ing ‘what do I do if my puppy…’), he trusts me. Like REALLY trusts me. Whatever I say, he does. It’s misplaced trust, but it sure has been pointing me a lot to God. Puppy is mistaken, but I think he thinks I’m his creator, and that thought brings him great comfort. He really believes that I must know better than him what is good for him.
In the middle of suffering we sometimes want God to be our friend, our counselor, our comforter. He is all these things, but He’s also our creator. In fact, so often in Scripture when people are walking through REALLY hard stuff, God presents his comfort in the form of a reminder that He is creator.
When the Israelites are struggling they find themselves clinging to anything around them that they think will provide security. Much like puppy, they put their faith in something that is ill-equipped to really protect them. The psalmist writes to them to urge them to trust in God, not idols who are ‘the work of human hands.’ Instead he prays that they would trust and be blessed by the Lord ‘who made heaven and earth’.
When Job is walking through the most horrific and dark time of his life, God answers him out of the whirlwind as CREATOR. He reminds him of all that he has made. He reminds Job that He alone is the uncreated creator.
Even Peter in the new testament urges suffering Christians to “entrust their souls to a faithful creator”.
I’m not sure why the Scriptures speak of God’s role as ‘creator’ as a comfort to us in times of suffering. I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that a creator knows what’s best for His creation.
If an artist painted a picture, he would know best where to hang it. He would know best how it should be displayed. If a software engineer made a program, he would be the one to ask how we should use it to make it operate at its maximum capacity.
Puppy trusts me because he thinks I know what’s best for him. But I don’t. I can guess and research and learn, but the difference between my wisdom and his creator’s is vast. Only a creator can know the intimate and perfect design of how his creation will find maximum joy.
My creator knows best how I operate. He knows even better than me what is good. He knows what brings me joy. His commands are not burdensome because they are insight into what will make me happiest.
In obedience to Him I will find more of myself more ‘me’ than I ever imagined. And in moments of suffering I can be assured that my creator knows what I need even better than I do.
Suffering comes when we find ourselves missing something we think we need. The call to entrust ourselves to a faithful creator is a call to remember that He knows what we need. After all, He made us. Surely we can trust these bodies to the one who knit them together. Surely if we were missing something we needed to operate at our highest capacity, our creator would be the one to recognize that.
And here’s the crazy part which some of you aren’t going to like: even this suffering itself is part of His design for you. Even this affliction is evidence of His willingness to intercede to bless His creation even through pain.
If I wake up today (which I did) and don’t have a spouse (which I don’t) and don’t have a means for an earthly hug (which I don’t) and do have a crazy living wiggly little furry creature depending on me for food (which I do), I can only conclude that puppy and I must both trust ourselves into a faithful creator and continue doing good.
Puppy is home alone right now. I am worried for him. But he is in the arms of his faithful creator who knows when even one sparrow falls to the ground.
In each detail of today, I too am resting in the arms of my faithful creator.
If you’re suffering today, meditate on Genesis 1 & 2. This is your God. Read through Job 38-41. This is your God. Why would we trust in idols? He alone is uncreated. Why would we trust in spouses or friends or children or money or abilities or comfort or approval when we can trust in He who created everything from nothing.
Let those who suffer according to God’s will, entrust themselves to a faithful creator and continue doing good. 1 Peter 4:19
*see my note about commitment issues. I can’t even commit to a name. Toby Zeegler is from West Wing – whiney and self-pitying – and with the basset hound in him, puppy certainly has those things down pat. Stanley is from The Office. He is a bigger guy and lazy, only motivated by vacations and pretzels. Again, this sure resonates with little puppy. Open to your feedback!