Pet tragedy

Last Saturday we had a distressing accident with one of our baby rabbits. A plank of wood which held down the rain cover over one of our rabbit hutches fell down into the hutch and hit a little rabbit named ‘Oreo’ on the head. It was a severe impact, breaking her front teeth and causing concussion and some sort of injury to her nasal passages making it hard for her to breathe.

We took her to the vet and they gave her oxygen, pain relief, and kept her as comfortable as possible. Then it became a case of waiting to see if she improved or deteriorated. She remained in the vet clinic overnight and we were pleased she survived the night. Unfortunately the blow to her head must have caused major brain trauma and severe injury to her nose because she was still struggling to breathe, was partially paralysed on her right side and seemed to still be in a lot of pain.

Our vet considered her long term chances of survival to be low and the poor little rabbit was distressed so we made the hard but hopefully humane decision to euthanise her to avoid further suffering.

I find the decision to end the life of a pet to be difficult and haunting, the internal debate of whether it was the right choice remains with me for a long time. I’ve had to make that call for two dogs in the last five years and despite it being the rationally obvious decision in both cases I still feel terrible for making that choice for both of them.

I’m well aware that in nature survival is a constant struggle for all animals and their normal state of existence is probably what I would call suffering for a pet, but as  Christian I consider this a result of the Fall rather than the original plan for creation (see Isaiah 11:6-9).

Oreo
Oreo

Go and do likewise

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36–37 ESV)

This man thought he was getting himself off the hook by asking Jesus just who exactly was his neighbour.

In response, Jesus demonstrates that he knew damn well all along who his neighbour is and has been ignoring God’s command to love him.

We also need to go and do likewise.


Image: iStock

The beautiful people


I have just discovered that yesterday (NZ)/today (USA) is/was World Down Syndrome Day.

As a teenager I attended school with two classmates (in a class of 27 students) who were Down Syndrome. Despite my typically teenagerish bad attitudes initially, I grew to greatly appreciate these students and in retrospect realize I learned a vast amount from them about compassion, teamwork, how to help others, and that people are of much more importance than achievements. I am delighted to be able to add a small voice of encouragement and support for folks with Down Syndrome.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has made a statement about world Down-Syndrome day, here is an excerpt:

For too long, persons with Down syndrome, including children, have been left on the margins of society. In many countries, they continue to face stigma and discrimination as well as legal, attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their participation in their communities.

He finishes by saying:

On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.

I have highlighted a statement which is very important. The most important human right which needs to be upheld for people with Down’s Syndrome is the right to life – spelled out in Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

Article 10 – Right to life

States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

New Zealand (and the United States) have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I consider this of huge importance in the face of a concerted effort by ‘health providers’, atheists and liberalists to eliminate any Down Syndrome babies detected prior to birth. On one hand we claim to uphold the rights of people with ‘disabilities’ (in our view), yet consider inconvenience for families and mothers to be of more significance than a person’s right to live. In the view of some, a baby does not even have the right to be considered a person, so if a newborn will be inconvenient they could theoretically be disposed of! (OK, that is another issue – one which I fully intend to discuss at length in future).

It is true that raising any child who is different is a lot of work, but our selfishness is not a reason to become evil and deny life to such people. Let us love people first and then worry about achieving other goals (I am preaching to myself here).


Photo of happy boy: iStock

Pray for your kids – compassion

To pray that our children will be compassionate is to ask God to cause them to enter into to pain, joys and sorrows of others. Are we willing for them to lay don their own concerns, fears and needs in order to both serve and feel the needs of others? Are we prepared as adults to model this?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.(Matthew 9:36 ESV)

Consider compassion and a little Albanian nun often comes to mind. A woman who was greatly used by God yet did not consider herself to be anything other than Christ’s servant.

Maybe you cringe as a parent at the thought of your child taking vows of chastity and poverty in order to serve the poorest of the poor. But I’m sure you want your kids to exhibit at least some compassion.

I found an excellent description of compassion written by R.C. Sproul Jr and will simply quote what he wrote:

Compassion, rightly understood, means entering into the passion, or suffering, of others. It means setting aside our own concerns, our own fears, our own needs, and not just supplying but feeling the needs of those around us. This, ironically, happens not when we have all that we need. It happens instead when we come to understand that we have nothing and that we need nothing. Compassion flows not out of the wellsatisfied but from those who have not. There is, in turn, only one way to do this — to die to self. When my aspirations, my hopes and dreams, my wants are crucified, I enter into liberty. I am free to take up the concerns of others. A dead man has no need to protect his comfort. He has no need to protect his wealth. He has no need at all to protect his reputation.  (With Passion, Tabletalk Magazine)

Such a huge challenge – to die to self and take up the concerns of others as my own. Perhaps children can teach us something of how to do this as they have little of their own but only what is provided for them. They are less about status and more about what is happening right here, right now.

But children have to learn empathy. Selfishness is natural to our sinful nature and overwhelms compassion. Every human has to consciously leave aside their own concerns in order to care for another. This is what we ask God to do, help our kids (and us) to die to ourselves so that we may serve others.


Download the prayer prompts:

Image of boy comforting friend: iStockphoto 

Live in compassionate incompleteness

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

I have been turning Proverbs 3:5-6 over in my mind this week and considering the situation in Haiti, concluding that in this life we must live with incompleteness. Deuteronomy 29:29 shows that we not only have limited capacity for knowledge, but also God has chosen to reveal only certain knowledge to us.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

We desire to know all, to probe the deep wisdom and knowledge of God (Romans 11:33-34) thinking that by complete knowledge we will be masters of life (see Genesis 3:6 and Genesis 11:4). While we ask why God caused the earthquake and demand an explanation for why relief is not provided faster, this is really a reaction out of our sinful nature.

There are different ways of questioning God, one is effectively saying, “See if God is love, or even exists at all, this would not have happened.” But God is not obliged to provide answers regardless of what tantrums the godless throw. Others groan with compassion, “O God, why must the poor suffer even more?” This is not unlike the cries of the prophets and psalmists.

Can we live in compassionate incompleteness?