Monday, 10:22 PM, indulgently stroking the dog’s velvet ears. The benched dog, whose time on the DL is approaching the third week, with at least another to go. Who sports the “cone” with resignation and whose pitiful malaise reaches my heart. I stoop to pet him and, giving in to sympathy, hunker down further for ear-scratching and head rubbing (still in the cone), putting off the dozen chores left to do before bed. For the next minute, at least, he’s happy again, smiling through his “jowly folds,” as we call them, eyes closed in bliss. I wistfully wish I could instantly cure his condition – a cocktail of minor yet majorly inconvenient ills and injuries.
It occurs to me, in the quiet moment, that when you comfort an unhappy animal, or a child at bedtime, it’s not as much the hand-holding or the petting itself, that they long for you to stay and keep giving. The physical contact, however pleasant or familiar it is, only lasts for exactly as long as it’s delivered. They (we all) long for true comfort, lasting comfort. The kind that leaves your spirit relieved that all really isn’t as scary or sad as it seemed a few minutes ago, and in fact there is behind the curtain of fear or frustration, a glorious confident assurance that not only will it be Okay, it already is Okay. And will be Okay, too. And the confidence is what stays after the petting and hand-holding stops. And the confidence is your faith, grown when it’s given – and when it’s received.
(Verse note Heb 11:1)