The irony was unmistakable. We had spent an enjoyable Thanksgiving day with my sister-in-law and her family. As we caught up on family news, she asked how our sixteen year old cat, Courtney, was getting along. I remember smiling when I answered that she was doing well. Imagine my shock when we got home later that evening, and Courtney's eye was almost swollen shut. She was fine when we left - what could have possibly happened in the few hours we had been away?
A trip to our local vet escalated our concern. Not only did she have elevated blood pressure, but the pressure in her right eye was almost three times higher than normal. The doctor suspected glaucoma. I had heard of the condition, but wasn't aware that it could affect animals.
Glaucoma is an eye disorder marked by unusually high pressure in the eyeball that leads to damage of the optic disk (Encarta Dictionary). In humans, the condition is extremely painful. The vet referred us to an ophthalmologist, who could examine Courtney further and give us our options. Armed with medication to control her blood pressure, we left the vet's office ready to contact the specialist on Monday.
We received good news over the weekend. Courtney's blood work came back within the normal range for a senior cat. I heaved a sigh of relief, imagining the swollen eye was due to her high blood pressure, and now that she was on medication, everything would return to normal. But my sense of relief was short lived.
The ophthalmologist visit eased some concerns, but raised new questions. The pressure in Courtney's eye had come down significantly, but the doctor's specialized equipment uncovered another problem - a mass on her iris. We had a big decision to make. Ultimately, removing the eye would give her the best prognosis.
Life is full of ups and downs. King Solomon understood this truth when he penned these words, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance," (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; KJV).
Knowing that God is in control even in the midst of life's valleys, is comforting. Christ himself experienced times of joy and grief while on this earth, so I know He can identify with the ups and downs I go through.
Job, a God-fearing man in the Old Testament, experienced one of life's extreme valleys. He lost his children and all of his wealth in one day. Instead of cursing God, consider his response, "...What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10b).
Even when life gets difficult, I'm determined to adopt the attitude of Job - to praise the Lord no matter the outcome! "...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord," (Job 1:21b).
What about you? Are you currently in a valley? How will you respond?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your comfort in the middle of life's difficulties. Help me embrace the truth that You are good, no matter what I may be going through. Today I choose to praise You because You are "great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone," (Psalm 86:10). In Jesus' name, Amen.