Each day has enough trouble of its own

Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Isn’t that the truth?  I’m guessing pretty much everyone reading this feels that way.  It’s true.  But do you know where it comes from?  Further, why it was said?  I’ve known the where part for decades.  I’ve been learning the why part for the past ten years.  From my dogs.  All five of them.

Each day has enough trouble of its ownNo – you’re not in the wrong place.  This is about Jesus and Christianity.  And dogs.  Why not?  Dogs are part of God’s creation too.  In fact, back when the movie version of The Shack came out, I wrote the following as my conclusion to what I titled, Why God is a curvy, black woman in ‘The Shack’?  

Should God choose to present Himself to me as a dog (if He hasn’t already) – I would totally understand why, and be thrilled that He chose to present Himself in a way that was not in the least threatening to me.

Should God choose to present Himself to me as one of the many judgmental Christians (which lets me our of looking in the mirror to have God represent Himself to me as me – got it?) I would be shocked.  No less shocking would be if He presented Himself to me as either a father or mother figure.  One thing I’m sure of though – whatever way He chooses – it will be the way I need it.  Not the way you, or anyone else needs Him to be – but the way I need Him to be.  That way, I can learn more about the truth of Who God is – which is certainly not an earthly father, mother, sister, brother, Etc.

Donnie – and his early days of troubles.

As you read about our “family”, from Donnie’s point of view, look for the links to other things I wrote.  Each of them is about the event taking place.  If you’re a dog lover, as we are, it’s a story of sadness and of hope.  Writing them made me cry.  I still do when I read them.  And yet, there are also tears of joy and hope.

See that little guy in the picture?  That’s Donnie.  aka Little Dude.  He’s the only one still with us.  He knew all four of the others.  He looks so relaxed, doesn’t he?  Not a care in the world.

Except for the fact that he was abandoned in the back yard when his owners lost the house.  So were his parents and siblings.  They all went to the pound.  And they were all taken home from the pound.  Except Donnie.  He was rescued from there and taken to a shelter.  You see, he wasn’t perfect.  His nose is a bit crooked.  One of his canine teeth sticks out.  And even as a puppy that tooth was all brown.  He’d had enough troubles in his little life even before finding a home.

Then he was picked up from the shelter.  And returned.  Supposedly, he bit their four-year-old girl.  Little dogs and little kids aren’t a good match.  I picked him up, looked at that crooked little face with the underbite, crooked brown tooth, and told him – “It’s a good thing for you we don’t have kids”.  I feel like crying as I’m writing this.

Most likely because he survived on grass for who knows how long, his digestive system is messed up.  He’s on meds for his gall bladder.  He gets an antacid tablet every evening.  And he gets three different kinds of food for every meal.  Four times a day, because he can’t eat too much without throwing up.  And a small snack around 2 or 3 AM.  Each different one is carefully counted out, allowing for treats he gets between meals.  More on that in a moment.

After we had him for a while, his “brother” Dewey, who we’d rescued a week before Donnie came home with me, managed to knock a door open and ran to chase a trash truck.  Donnie followed.  BTW – we immediately replaced the door.  Dewey was found by a family who took him home and fed him food from their table for dinner, since they couldn’t get hold up us right away.  That’s because Donnie got run over by a car.  Talk about enough troubles for one day.  How about more than enough troubles for one life?

Donnie bit me when I picked him up off the street.  We took him to the vet first.  I went to Urgent Care after he was seen.  Little Dude was first.  In spite of having the car tire run right over him, he only had two little fractures in his pelvis.  Lucky?  Or being watched over?  I go for the latter.  He actually healed before my hand did.

Before the accident, we had to put down the first two dogs.  Holmes and Moriarty.  Donnie lost two “brothers”.  The brothers were just shy of 18 years old.  Holmes had pancreatitis most of his life.  But in the end, he just got too old and too weak.  We took him for “walks” with the rest of the crew, although he was in a wagon.  When he couldn’t stand any longer, we knew it was time.  A couple days before that, Moriarty developed internal bleeding.  He was too old for surgery.  And so two actual brothers that came into the world on the same day, also left on the same day.

Some years after the accident, we rescued Hachiko.  We think he was a Chow – German Shepherd mix.  Hachiko and Donnie were like instant fast friends.  Lost “brothers”.  Both abandoned.  Both in a new home where they were wanted.  (Dewey’s previous owner passed away.)

Later, Dewey had cancer.  After an 8-9 month battle, it went to his brain.  He was on a drug trial, but the drug couldn’t go through the brain-blood barrier.  Donnie lost another “brother”.

Six years after rescuing Hachiko, we had to put him down.  We knew he was badly abused.  It took so much to get him to feel comfortable in the house.  He was with us for two years before he was OK outside.  He came to love being in the back yard.  Even enjoyed walks if we didn’t go too far.  Always with Dewey (while he was still with us) and Donnie.  We think it’s because he was beaten by the previous owner, but one night he just grabbed hold of my wife’s foot and wouldn’t let go until I came into the room and told him to stop.  It was too scary to keep him after that.  And at least here in California, there was no real option other than to send him home, I believe to be with his brothers that he hadn’t met yet.  I was so sad, and yet, there’s also hope.

Donnie lost another “brother”.  More than enough troubles for one day.  And one little life.

But look at him.  So peaceful.

Donnie – and his current days of troubles

Truth is, he’s got separation anxiety.  Mostly with me, but with my wife as well.  Donnie’s lying right next to me as I type, on one of his five beds.  If I leave, he’ll either sit by the front picture window or one of the chairs I use most often.  More than enough troubles for one day.  He goes through this every time I leave the house without him.  But when it’s time for a walk, or when I take him in the car in his little sky-box, strapped in where he can get his head out the window, it’s like he’s in heaven.  Today’s troubles are momentarily forgotten.  Peaceful and happy again.

Of course, all of that bothers me and my wife as well.  But I wanted to write it from what I think is his point of view.

Truth is, he’s different now than when he had his brothers.  With more than one of them, they had no friends in the neighborhood.  Not people or other dogs.

Dewey was too energetic and liked to bark at pretty much everything.  It gave him joy.  Also got him into trouble that one time.  But as the trainer in his class agreed – he had a “screw loose”.  There was just no containing his joy of running after things and barking.  So we let him enjoy it.  Everything the trainer tried failed to stop him when he was after something.  Not even for her.

On the other hand, Hachiko was too scared.  There was no telling what he’d do with another dog.  Or with another person.  Anything that reminded him of his prior experiences was liable to make him want to run away.  Which he managed to do.  Twice.

But now, with just Little Dude, he’s a social butterfly.  He knows so many dogs around the neighborhood.  There’s no one he doesn’t at least want to try to be friends with.  “Try” being the key word.  If they’re too hyper – Donnie just turns and walks away.  He’s got people that give him treats too.  On grooming days, he stays for five hours so he can play with the other friendly dogs.  They offered to feed him lunch so he could stay that long.  And give him treats.  Since he’s on such a tight diet, we have to adjust his regular meals, cutting back to account for treats beyond what’s normal.  Even the treats are special.  All fruit and veggies – no meat protein.

Now, Donnie’s got friends.  Lots of friends.  At twelve pounds, nearly all of them are bigger than him.  Like the German Shepherd.  And the Standard Poodle.  And the combo plate dog that had no friends, until he met Donnie.  Now, he’s learning to interact with other dogs too.  Learning from Donnie.  Although he’s a bit careful with the Basset Hound who wags his tail a lot and thumps Donnie with it when he doesn’t watch out.  Today’s troubles are momentarily forgotten.  Seemingly, all of his life-long troubles are gone.  Peaceful and happy again.

That part about learning from Donnie?  That’s why I’m writing this.  All those other links above are to a series of things I’ve written about “learning from a dog”.  Me learning – from all those dogs God brought into my life.

And now that it’s me who has cancer, it’s time to once again see how much I’ve learned from them.  How much I’ve learned about things like love.  Trust.  Loving God like they loved me.  Trusting God like they trusted me.  And now, putting troubles aside.  Just like Dewey did, if you read the one on his cancer experience.  Just like Hachiko learned to do when he was with me.  And like Donnie does with all of his troubles.

For those who take exception to what I just wrote in that last paragraph, I have only one thing for you.

Should God choose to present Himself to me as a dog (if He hasn’t already) – I would totally understand why, and be thrilled that He chose to present Himself in a way that was not in the least threatening to me.

Should God choose to present Himself to me as one of the many judgmental Christians (which lets me our of looking in the mirror to have God represent Himself to me as me – got it?) I would be shocked.  No less shocking would be if He presented Himself to me as either a father or mother figure.  One thing I’m sure of though – whatever way He chooses – it will be the way I need it.  Not the way you, or anyone else needs Him to be – but the way I need Him to be.  That way, I can learn more about the truth of Who God is – which is certainly not an earthly father, mother, sister, brother, Etc.

Well, two things.  Here’s the other.

Balaam’s Donkey

Nu 22:21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

Nu 22:24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

Nu 22:26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Nu 22:29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

Nu 22:30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.

Nu 22:31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

Nu 22:32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

Nu 22:34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

Nu 22:35 The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Nu 22:36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?”

Nu 22:38 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”

Nu 22:39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and gave some to Balaam and the princes who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he saw part of the people.

Yeah – it’s from Numbers.  One of those books that maybe you skipped after the first couple chapters?  But there’s a lot more to it than just those few chapters of, literally, numbers.  And if God can use a donkey to get a message to Balaam back then, why can’t he use dogs to get a message to someone today?

Each day has enough trouble of its own

So – let’s get to the point.  That thought – each day has enough trouble of its own – is from Jesus.

Do Not Worry – Matthew

6:25-33 pp — Lk 12:22-31

Mt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Mt 6:28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Notice that the passage begins with, Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life … .  That’s important, since what follows gains context from the passage just before it.  We’ll look at it in a moment.  But first, let’s look at what the word we read as “life” meant.  We probably read it as life – as in life and death.  Our physical life.  Especially given that Jesus follows it up with things like eat, drink, clothes, Etc.

But check this out. Here’s the Greek word we read as “life:

5590 ψυχή [psuche /psoo·khay/] n f. From 5594; TDNT 9:608; TDNTA 1342; GK 6034; 105 occurrences; AV translates as “soul” 58 times, “life” 40 times, “mind” three times, “heart” once, “heartily + 1537” once, and not translated twice. 1 breath. 1A the breath of life. 1A1 the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing. 1A1A of animals. 1A12 of men. 1B life. 1C that in which there is life. 1C1 a living being, a living soul. 2 the soul. 2A the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.). 2B the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life. 2C the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).  [1]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Wow.  So what did Jesus mean?  This current physical life?  Or eternal life – the life after we die in the physical world?  Maybe both?

Let’s now turn to the passage before Do Not Worry.  The one that gives us the context for Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life … .

Treasures in Heaven

6:22, 23 pp — Lk 11:34-36

Mt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Does it make sense now?  Don’t worry about the things of this physical life.  Why not?  Because what’s really important is the next life.  Don’t worry about what you’re going to wear in this life.  Why not?  Because when we do that, we lose track of what’s really important.  That’s why Jesus said, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  If our heart us busy worrying about clothes, good food, nice drinks and the like – we aren’t thinking about the next life.  About Jesus.  And living our life the way He taught.  We certainly aren’t spending a lot of time thinking about living the life for which we were created.  Then we really do have something to worry about.

What’s to learn from Donnie and his brothers?

So what is there to learn from Donnie and his “brothers”?  Certainly I’m not saying that Donnie doesn’t worry about anything, because it appears that he does.  However, his worrying is very much short term.  He lives in the moment.  He’s happy or he worries, depending on the moment.

If we look at that and compare it to what Jesus says, there is something to learn.  Do you remember the passage below?

At the Home of Martha and Mary

Lk 10:38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Lk 10:41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Do you remember the point Jesus was making?  He’s only here for a short time, so Mary was actually doing the right thing.  Mary was spending time with Jesus, which was the important thing to do.  On the other hand, Martha was so distracted by the things of this life, like all the preparations, that she lost sight of the most important thing.  Jesus was with them!  And Martha was missing it.

In so many ways, we’re doing the same thing.  No, Jesus isn’t physically with us.  But if we’re Christian, Jesus most certainly is with us.  In the person of the Holy Spirit.  The mind of Christ is with us from the moment we’re baptized.  But when we’re so focused on clothes, food, drink, and the like – we lose focus on that most important thing in this short life.  Just like Martha did.

So how does Donnie fit in?  To him, the important thing is being with me.  When I’m not around, he worries.  Until I return.  His treasure, so to speak, is invested in being with me.  For us, our treasure should be invested in being with Jesus.  If we ignore Him in this life, we won’t be with Him in the next either.

Don’t worry about cancer?

Am I saying not to worry about cancer?

Well, that depends.  I’m not saying ignore it.  That’s very likely to be fatal.  Fatal in this physical life.  And if it cuts our life short because we ignore it, there may very well be some impact in the next life as well.  If nothing else, it cuts down on the effect we can have in this life for Jesus, because we’re here for less time than if we hadn’t ignored the cancer.

What I am saying is not to worry about it to the point where it affects our ability to perform the tasks God created us for.

I’m certainly not a Calvinist – hard-core or otherwise.  I don’t believe that everything’s predetermined and I should just accept this and whatever’s predetermined to happen will happen.  I believe I have the free will to either do nothing or do one of a number of different things about this cancer.

What I don’t believe is that I should be worried about it to the point where, as I said, it affects God’s ability to use me.  I could crawl in a shell and say it’s over.  In fact, there was a time when I’d probably do just that.  And then wait for it to end.  But after a very serious staph infection a few years ago, I know for sure that I don’t look at life that way anymore.  If it was time to go, it was time to go.  I was ready to “go home”, which is Christian-speak for being ready to die and go to be with God.  But if God had more for me to do, I was willing to stay and do those things.

And so – here I am.  Writing this.  And tomorrow I’ll go to the doctor and get the results from some genomic tests.  They’ll help with making decisions on what happens next.

However, as Jesus said, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So I’ll worry about tomorrow – tomorrow.  And I’ll write about tomorrow – tomorrow.  But today, that’s for God and that’s why I’m writing now.  For Him.  And, I pray, also for you.


image from me.


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