Opossums, iguanas, squirrels, horses, dogs, cats, there are very few animals that were not at one point or another in my childhood part of our little family. But it was Baby, the part-dog/part-wolf mixture that sent me to the hospital, not any of the reptiles or marsupials in our world.
The lighting was popping, the thunder was crashing, and the winds were howling. It was somewhat of an epic storm, and Baby was deathly afraid of storms. This one was bad enough to send her over the edge; she tried to climb over the fence.
She almost made it. But as she crested the top, her back foot got caught in the wire, and she howled in agony as all of her weight suddenly was suspended from her back paw. She was thrashing wildly, and it was clear that she was going to do herself great harm if we could not get her down.
I was about ten years old. There was no father in the home. So it was that, as bravely as I could, I made my way out to the dog lot with a pair of wire cutters to try and free Baby from her predicament. I spoke softly to her, came alongside, and reached up to cut the wire.
She bit me before I ever got the chance. Caught me right across the leg just above the knee. I dropped the wire cutters and ran/hobbled for the house, howling worse than the wind or the wolf.
Baby, though, thrashed wildly one more time and broke free of the fence, crashing to the ground. My mother managed to get her back into the lot, then got me into the car so I could go to the emergency room. That led to a shot. To this day I hate, despise, detest, abhor, and loathe needles.
My dog bit me. Then I had to get a shot. Then there was a hospital bill to pay. All because a beloved pet, an animal that had never been anything but sweet to any of us, lashed out at me because of the pain she was in.
Baby is not alone in that type of thing. People are every bit as prone to that kind of behavior, and it would do us good to take that into account whenever someone hurts us.
When reading the book of Job, our focus is normally on the man whose name adorns the book, Job himself. But in Job chapters one and two, it was not just Job, but also Job’s wife who had her whole world crumble around her. This mother of ten lost all of her children in a single day. Sons, daughters, gone. Shortly thereafter she lost the comfort of her own husband as his body was ravaged by boils. A woman who needed to be held and consoled was deprived even of that comfort.
Under all of that stress, in all of that anguish, this dear lady snapped, lashing out at her husband: Job 2:9 “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.”
Her words were horrible. But her words also came out of hurt, not out of any hatred of her husband. Job seemed to understand this. While he corrected her for her words, he also stayed with her. By the time the story was over, he was restored and they had produced ten more children together.
Think of your own life; I would guess that very few people, probably none, actually, have ever gone through an entire life without having someone they love lash out at them. And in many of those cases, if you will consider them carefully, you will likely find that the harsh words are birthed out of a hurting heart.
When people are in pain, they lash out. No, it isn’t right, but when you understand the source, it makes it much easier to understand what you need to do in response; forgive instantly, pray for that person fervently, and continue to love them with a Christ-like love.
It will make both your pain and theirs fade away much sooner.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.