It was the summer of 2015 and we were spending the month of July at our home away from home…
A rustic, wilderness, trail riding camp that we help with each summer.
It was in the early hours of the day – just after the morning horse round up – that the head wrangler walked up to me. By the grim expression on his face, I knew something was not right.
Mentally, I prepared myself to receive the news, hoping that the message would be about a downed fence or a washed out trail or perhaps that some horses had got out of the fence…
Anything but a horse injury.
But it was not to be…
“You need to come and look at that black and white paint of yours. He’s hurt.”
And I confess, as I set down my cup of coffee and walked to the tackroom to get a halter and lead rope, my heart was thudding. As I walked with the wrangler up the log corral, I switched into my “horse treating” mode…the mode that I need to be in so that I can assess the situation objectively…not emotionally.
When I entered the fence of horses, I saw Tommy standing in the back corner. From a distance, he appeared to be alright. Relieved to see that he was standing and that there was no blood gushing out, I walked up to him. He was standing on three legs and resting his back right leg. I walked closer and saw the blood on the inside of the leg that he was resting.
Relieved that the wound didn’t look huge, I slipped the halter onto his head and led him down to the hitching rail so that I could get a closer look at it. He favored his leg as we walked, which had me concerned that there might be something lodged in his leg under the surface of the wound.
After washing the wound with salt water, I inspected it more closely. I lightly ran my finger around the edge of the hole. The first time I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary, but when I checked again, more slowly, I thought that I did.
We had to get Tommy to the vet.
We loaded Tommy into the horse trailer, and as we were heading into town I switched off my “horse treating” mode, and let the tears flow as my prayers continued upward to God. Tommy was one of those horses that had walked into my heart when he had come to live at our place the year before. His dynamic personality, coupled with his persnickety ways just made him…
I don’t know what makes a connection between horses and people. While each horse that we have is valued and special, there are just some that I bond with more than others.
And Tommy was one of those horses.
When we arrived at the vet, Tommy was able to go right in. They mildly sedated him and began to flush the wound. As they continued their inspection, they did find wood particles in Tommy’s leg…
Close to his stifle joint.
This had them concerned for if it had punctured the joint there was risk of a major infection, which would result in arthritis in that joint.
It was at that moment, as the vet was delivering this bad news…in the midst of the painful, swirling storm of Tommy, a favorite horse, being injured and in pain…of being told of the possible and probable implications of his injury…of my heart crying out to God for help…
That His peace surrounded me and blanketed me with the assurance of His promises…
- That He was right there with me…He would never leave me nor forsake me
- That because He cared for me, I could roll this burden onto His shoulders…
- That He would work this out for my good…
- That if the smallest of sparrows were important to Him, He surely cared for Tommy and I…
As we left the vet that day, armed with medication, antibiotics and a list of instructions to do morning and night, I left armed with something else.
A sure hope.
A confident hope.
For in the midst of a painful trial and difficult circumstances, the burden of it became light. I wasn’t bearing it on my own. God was with me. He provided the comfort that I needed at just the right moment (2. Corinthians 2:3, 4), He would direct my steps (by way of some good advice and instructions from our vet) and He guard my heart with His peace as I trusted in Him.
Against all hope, I could in hope believe…
For my hope was not tied to my circumstances or their outcome. Rather it was anchored to a God who faithfully keeps His promises (2. Corinthians 1:20) and who is able to do all that He promised (Romans 4:21).
Confident hope isn’t based on a blind faith or a faith that ignores the sometimes harsh circumstances of life.
Confident hope is based on a confident faith…that even when facing the truth of facts of the situations that I am in – regardless of how dire, difficult, incomprehensible, confusing, painful, or impossible they may be – chooses to look up and believe the truth of the promises of my good Father. When I do this, God strengthens my faith and I can…
Against all hope, in hope believe. (Romans 4:18)
I still remember the day, when at about 4:00 in the morning I heard the thundering of hooves followed by the trumpeting call of Tommy:D I didn’t mind being awakened so early in the morning. I lay there, listening and said,
God had brought us through the storm. Tommy was running, cutting back and forth, and racing the wind again:D And he still is to this day. There are no ill effects whatsoever from his wound.
Not every difficult situation that I have faced has turned out like this. The same year, just three weeks after Tommy, I had another gelding that was injured in a fence. Regardless of how much I treated Bolder and gave him TLC, he deteriorated until finally I couldn’t let him go on suffering anymore.
It hurt to let him go…
But once again, God was there…with me…holding me as I cried.
He didn’t leave me to traverse that dark valley alone.
I don’t know why Bolder died and Tommy lived, and that may be a question that I will never know the answer to.
But I can face the situations and circumstances of life with confident hope because I know that God, my Father – in whom I have chosen to believe – is able to AND will be faithful to fulfill His promises. He will be with me. I don’t have to carry the burden alone. He will work this out for my good. He cares.
It is because of Him that I can…
Against all hope, in hope believe.
“I still dare to hope when I remember this: the unfailing love of the Lord never ends. By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.” Lamentations 3:21 – 23.