My son and I spent the evening before Easter in the pet emergency clinic. Our female standard poodle had woken up vomiting. Bloody diarrhea replaced her nausea as the day wore on.
Four different pet emergencies arrived at the clinic about the same time we entered. The assistant visited with each of us to rank our urgency. A woman and her grown daughter arrived carrying a dog that had been viciously attacked by another dog. She rightly gained first spot and was sent on to the NC State Vet School.
Next, the chocolate-gobbling pooch was seen. Easter candy? The doctor quickly returned with good news. The chocolate was out. We continued to wait for our turn.
Cosette shifted in quiet misery. She looked like how you feel when your body aches with an acute virus. No position is comfortable. Cosette, usually our little sparkplug, barely noticed the other dogs that passed by her.
The vet said Cosette was dehydrated and needed IV fluids. She had to stay overnight. They hoped she didn’t have her older brother’s dreaded Addison’s disease.
That night, the word “substitute” floated through my sleep. I’m not sure why. Maybe it came because it was Easter and I’d been reading Isaiah 53. But remembering the Bible says the Lord counsels us in our sleep, I mused about how it related to my sick dog.
The image of leaving my little lamb haunted me. I remembered her vacant look and limp tail. I thought about the relief, the joy, the indebtedness I’d feel if someone could substitute health for sickness, sparkle for listlessness, and life for death.
I also thought about a man Larry and I had come across earlier that week while on a walk. His loud weeping from a yard made us turn around. He told us his wife is dying of cancer. In the last five days she’s gone from being able to walk to the beach in the evenings to not being able to walk to the bathroom. If someone could take her place of suffering, imagine how grateful they both would be.
Then I thought of Jesus. That is exactly what He did. Read the account yourself:
“ 4 Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! 5 But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed—and we were healed! 6 We—every one of us—have strayed away like sheep! We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us!
“ 7 He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he never said a word. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he stood silent before the ones condemning him. 8 From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people of that day realized it was their sins that he was dying for—that he was suffering their punishment? 9 He was buried like a criminal, but in a rich man’s grave; but he had done no wrong and had never spoken an evil word.
“ 10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to bruise him and fill him with grief. However, when his soul has been made an offering for sin, then he shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again, and God’s program shall prosper in his hands. 11 And when he sees all that is accomplished by the anguish of his soul, he shall be satisfied; and because of what he has experienced, my righteous Servant shall make many to be counted righteous before God, for he shall bear all their sins. 12 Therefore, I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great because he has poured out his soul unto death. He was counted as a sinner, and he bore the sins of many, and he pled with God for sinners” (Isaiah 53:4-12 TLB).
Jesus is our substitute! My sick dog gave me fresh appreciation for Easter. Thank You, Jesus, for taking my place of suffering and healing me from my sins. Thank You for substituting forgiveness for condemnation, freedom for bondage, and eternal life for eternal death. Thank You for taking my hell so that I can share Your Heaven.
Happily, for those wondering, Cosette appears to be on the mend.
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He is risen,
Debbie W. Wilson