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The Power of “Withness”

The day after Easter, our beloved Golden Retriever Calvin, only seven years old (that’s mid-life in dog years) had to be put to sleep because of cancer that had been sucking the life out of him. When our son and his wife moved from Texas to California, they were forced to leave him behind because their housing does not allow dogs, and Calvin became my husband’s dog.

Calvin was the exact same shade of red as our Irish Setter, who died seventeen months ago. When we had to put Pele down, there was another big red dog in the house.

But not yesterday. Or today.

And it’s painful.

Ray has always connected in a deep and special way with his dogs, and God has used them to “love on” him, as they say here in the South. So the loss of two beloved four-footed family members in less than a year and a half struck a deep blow of grief to his soul.

I looked forward to his return home so I could just be with him. I knew I couldn’t say anything to make him feel better. Nothing makes a grieving person feel better. But there is comfort in the being there for someone in pain.

Or in stress. The next morning a friend and I went into a courtroom with another mutual friend to support her in a legal hearing. Several times, our friend said how much she appreciated us being there with her and for her.

I am mindful of the week of comfort Job’s friends brought to him when they sat with him in his misery, saying nothing in words but everything with their silent, supportive presence (Job 2:13).

I am also mindful of the good news of the Incarnation, the Son leaving heaven to come into our darkness and misery of life in a fallen world, coming as Immanuel: God with us.

And I am mindful of the big “no accident” of the timing of our painful loss: the day after Easter, when we celebrate Immanuel’s resurrection from the dead, Who is forever alive and, as He promised, He is with us always (Matt. 28:20).

With us in pain.

With us in loss.

With us in stress.

Praise God for the power of “withness”!!

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Sue Bohlin

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor.

She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions.

Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.

2 Comments

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    Byron Barlowe

    Being a good “withness”

    Love how you expanded the loss of pets so artfully all the way to the Incarnation.

    What's more, our "withness" can be a marvelous witness to unbelievers. They'll know us by our love for one another, after all (Gospel of John, I John throughout).

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      Sue Bohlin

      Thanks, Byron.

      I think you're so right about the power of "withness" as witness. Both to believers and unbelievers. Thanks for the affirming words, brother.

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