God the Savior of Those in Distress
A small feral kitten has made a home in my yard with my other two yard cats. Feral and stray cats in Israel are numerous. Here they say stray cats are like squirrels in America – and you know how many squirrels there are there! They are my favorite of God’s creatures, so sleek and beautiful to look at, soft to the touch and fascinating to observe their distinct personalities as they interact with each other and the world around them. I went to a nearby pet store in order to buy kitten food for this precious creature. I asked the manager of the store for help in selecting the most nutritious canned food for my precious little bundle of fur. I shared with Herzl how since moving to Israel I had more than 30 stray or feral cats come into my yard needing assistance and that I had found myself with an unexpected mission here of animal rescue. As I shared with him some of these heart-moving accounts, Herzl surprised me when he said, “You tell these stories like you are a writer!” I was truly amazed with these words, because I hadn’t mentioned anything to him about the mission of this website – the writing to witness to the Lord’s Presence in my life that He called me to do so that you can be encouraged in your own walk of faith. I didn’t begin this work until I came to Israel when the Lord brought someone into my life here that made it possible to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ across the internet, as she had the skills to design the website for me. I believe that Herzl was moved by the Holy Spirit to confirm this writing ministry is the mission that the Lord is really asking of me.
After Herzl kindly loaded the purchases in my car, I came back into the store to share with him the true story of a real miracle that Jesus did not long ago right in my town here in Israel in answer to my prayer when I put all my trust in Him to deliver me (and the dog!) from the distress we were in. I knew this story would simply delight Herzl because of his love for animals and also, I hoped it would increase His faith in God who hears the cries of His children and answers them in His magnificent love.
O Lord, hear my voice when I call,
have mercy on me and answer me (Psalm 27:7).
It was about an hour before I had to leave to catch my flight to America from Ben Gurion Airport when I stepped outside my home to feed the yard cats prior to leaving. (Don’t worry. I didn’t leave the cats alone! My family who remained behind in Israel took care of them while I was away for six weeks helping my mother who is suffering from cancer). I noticed a large dog outside my gate. It looked disheveled, thin and dirty. It was panting heavily and had a large scrape down its nose revealing raw skin. He was ill. He was wearing a collar, so I knew that he must have belonged to someone. Perhaps he got lost? Maybe the owner didn’t want him anymore and dropped him off in this town? I felt compassion for him. I approached him carefully, with a bowl of water and another container of dry cat food. He refused to eat. He wouldn’t drink the water, either. He surely was dehydrated. He seemed confused and was evidently sick. I continued to put the water bowl under his face and encouraged him by speaking gently and sweetly to him, “Come on good boy, drink up the water.” Finally, he began to lap up the water. After, he started to walk away down the middle of a busy boulevard with many cars moving very fast. I was worried for him. He would get hit. He needed help immediately. I didn’t know what to do. I had such little time with only an hour before I needed to leave for the airport. I didn’t know the numbers to call for the local pound or the SPCA or any emergency animal shelters as I had always been able to take care of the cats in my yard and find solutions for them gradually by other means. A neighbor stepped out of his house to water the potted plants on his patio. I called out to him for help. I pointed to the dog which was staggering down the big boulevard and begged him to help me by calling the animal services for immediate help as I didn’t speak Hebrew and didn’t know who to call.
This neighbor I had not met before. I told him we must not let the dog continue down the road or we would lose sight of it or he might be killed by the traffic! My neighbor responded as a Good Samaritan and went inside to get his cell phone and truck keys. He had a large white pick up truck. He indicated for me to hop in. We drove down the boulevard and found the dog lying in the middle of the grass inside the traffic circle. My neighbor by this time had contacted the local pound who told him they would be there to pick up the dog within the hour. I was so happy until my neighbor told me that they would most likely put the dog to sleep as it was evidently ill. My God! No, this is not what I had expected. I wanted to save the dog, not kill it! My neighbor told me he had to go, and he drove off. I crossed the busy circle and went to the side of the dog which was still lying in the middle of it on the grass. His chest was rising and falling as he breathed heavily and with effort. I comforted the dog for a time by petting his head and stroking his back and telling him it would be ok. I ran back to get the water bowl that I had left behind in my yard and rushed back to his side. He hadn’t moved from his lying position and I feared he was dying. I poured water from the bowl gently into his mouth as his mouth was open and his tongue was out as he was panting so hard. He looked at me with soulful eyes. I truly felt he knew I was trying to help him and he trusted me. So I continued to stroke his back and speak encouragingly to him. Time was running out. I had to leave to go to the airport. The dog catchers would soon be there and then what would they do to him?
My heart filled up with anxiety and distress and then I suddenly remembered how I was told by a dear Christian friend to sing the hymn “Jesus Loves Me” when I became troubled. Not hesitating that the Good Lord also cares for all His creatures, I began to sing the well known children’s hymn to the dog…. “Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you. Yes, Jesus loves you, the Bible tells me so.”
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.” And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was.
After this I began to pray fervently for the dog begging Jesus to hear my cry and come to my aid and help me in my distress over the fate of this innocent animal and rescue us both from this stressful situation. I knew I would soon have to leave the dog all alone in his condition and head for the airport. I knew that if the pound came, they might quickly put him down, as he was sick. I remember I prayed, “Lord, You are a God of miracles and even at this late hour, nothing is impossible for You, please help us. Save this dog from death. I can’t help him. Only You can help him. Lord, have mercy on us both!”
Some were sick…and afflicted. They had a loathing for every food. They came close to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their need and He rescued them from their distress. He sent forth His word to heal them and saved their life from the grave (Psalm 107:17-20).
Just then my oldest daughter who had walked from our house to the traffic circle and found me sitting along side the dog in the middle of it, called out, “Mom, Daddy is getting worried. It is getting late. You need to come home now because you have to leave for the airport or you will miss your flight! Come on Mom, come now!”
My heart was heavy as I knew she was right. I had to leave. I prayed one last time, “Lord, I entrust Your creature which You called “good” into Your Hands.” I bid farewell to the dog which was still lying there, tongue out, panting and breathing heavily as his chest rose and fell with effort. I turned away sadly to start walking back home with my daughter. Just as we were leaving a pick up truck suddenly slammed his brakes on as he was going around the traffic circle. The man driving it stopped the truck right in the middle of the circle and hopped out of the truck calling out something in Hebrew. I turned and said, “I don’t speak Hebrew.” As he crossed over the road towards the grassy center of the circle he said it again to me in English. “That’s my dog!” He approached the dog and called out what I imagine must have been the dog’s name, slapping his hand on his legs as he called out for the dog to come to him. At the command of the voice of his master the dog immediately leapt up and ran over to him. It then proceeded to run across the road and leapt into the flat back bed of his owner’s pick up truck. He seemed as good as new! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was totally astounded. Lord, how awesome you are!
The Master, our Master, Christ Jesus when He observed the faith of the friends who brought the bed-ridden paralytic before Him to be healed, said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.” (Luke 20-26)
I approached the owner and we spoke in English. He told me he was a farmer of one of the farms in the area and his dog had disappeared some time ago and he hadn’t been able to find him. I told the farmer how I had come across his dog and how sick he was and that is why I was sitting with him in the middle of the circle trying to care for him. I shared with him that I had asked a neighbor to call the local pound which was on it way to collect his dog but that he had arrived in the nick of time to save him from such a fate. I told him the whole story! I told him that I had sung a hymn to the dog to comfort him and to call on the Lord’s healing and saving power. I told the farmer that I had prayed fervently for his dog, and that I had just entrusted his dog totally to God’s care as I had to go to catch a plane and could not stay with it moment longer. The Lord heard my prayers for help and my cries to Him in faith and trust and in His merciful love He answered me with this miracle. The farmer was utterly amazed and he believed! He thanked me and we parted ways both of us filled with great joy at the mighty and awesome works of the Lord. My heart was overflowing with happiness and gratitude to Jesus and I praised and thanked Him all the way home and all across the Atlantic Ocean for His merciful love and His wondrous deeds towards men.
Let them thank the Lord for His love, for the wondrous deeds he does for men. Let them offer a sacrifice of thanks and tell of his deeds with rejoicing (Psalm 107:21-22.)
Now the Holy Spirit did not speak His words in Psalm 107 for dogs! It is written for men. For us! It is a hymn inviting those who have been rescued by God to give Him praise and to reveal the Lord’s deliverance of His people in this life and for eternal life. Four archetypal divine rescues are described in the psalm, each ending in thanksgiving: first, from the sterile desert (verses 4-9) second, from imprisonment in gloom (10-16), third, from mortal illness (17-22), and lastly, from the angry sea (23-32). The number four connotes totality, all the possible varieties of rescue! The same saving activity of God is shown in Israel’s history (33-41); whenever the people were endangered God rescued them! The last verses invite us to ponder the persistent saving acts of God (42-43) and to put our trust and hope in Him for our eternal salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ who delivers us from eternal death.
“Give thanks to the LORD who is good, whose love endures forever!” Let that be the prayer of the LORD’S redeemed, those redeemed from the hand of the foe, those gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Some had lost their way in a barren desert; found no path toward a city to live in. They were hungry and thirsty; their life was ebbing away. In their distress they cried to the LORD, who rescued them in their peril, guided them by a direct path so they reached a city to live in. Let them thank the LORD for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals. For he satisfied the thirsty, filled the hungry with good things.
Some lived in darkness and gloom, in prison, bound with chains, because they rebelled against God’s word, scorned the counsel of the Most High, Who humbled their hearts through hardship; they stumbled with no one to help. In their distress they cried to the LORD, who saved them in their peril, led them forth from darkness and gloom and broke their chains asunder. Let them thank the LORD for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals, for He broke down the gates of bronze and snapped the bars of iron.
Some fell sick from their wicked ways, afflicted because of their sins. They loathed all manner of food; they were at the gates of death. In their distress they cried to the LORD, who saved them in their peril, sent forth the word to heal them, snatched them from the grave. Let them thank the LORD for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals. Let them offer a sacrifice in thanks, declare His works with shouts of joy.
Some went off to sea in ships, plied their trade on the deep waters. They saw the works of the LORD, the wonders of God in the deep. He spoke and roused a storm wind; it tossed the waves on high. They rose up to the heavens, sank to the depths; their hearts trembled at the danger. They reeled, staggered like drunkards; their skill was of no avail. In their distress they cried to the LORD, who brought them out of their peril, hushed the storm to a murmur; the waves of the sea were stilled. They rejoiced that the sea grew calm, that God brought them to the harbor they longed for. Let them thank the LORD for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals. Let them praise him in the assembly of the people, give thanks in the council of the elders.
God changed rivers into desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, Fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its people. He changed the desert into pools of water, arid land into springs of water, and settled the hungry there; they built a city to live in. They sowed fields and planted vineyards, brought in an abundant harvest. God blessed them, they became very many, and their livestock did not decrease. But He poured out contempt on princes, made them wander the trackless wastes, where they were diminished and brought low through misery and cruel oppression, while the poor were released from their affliction; their families increased like their flocks. The upright saw this and rejoiced; all wickedness shut its mouth. Whoever is wise will take note of these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the LORD.