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Faith and Miracles Part III: Even Our Hairs - Hamster Time

from the December 21, 2010 eNews issue

"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." - Luke 12:6

Last week in our series on faith and miracles, we learned about the abundant provision God gave a woman with five children to feed. When we hear those sorts of stories, we're grateful for God's coming through in times of great need. However, we don't always think that God is willing to take care of us in the "small" things too, things that maybe not all people will recognize as important.

Fear and doubt edge into our prayer-lives in a variety of ways.

Mistake #3: Thinking Our Request Is Unimportant:
We sometimes get the idea that God is only interested in really huge problems.  We say, yes, God even cares about the sparrows, but we don't really believe it.  We forget that a thousand years to God is as a day, and a day is as a thousand years, and our very hairs are numbered. Every detail about us is important to God. Every detail. Here are two similar stories that demonstrate the care God has for even the animals.

The Frattarola family of Martinsburg, West Virginia had a 13-year-old boxer-malamute mix named Chipper. He was a faithful old family dog, and like old dogs do, he became seriously ill. He lost his eyesight and most of his hearing as well. "He would stumble along the wall at the edge of the room in order to keep track of where he was going," John Frattarola told us. He got so bad he couldn't even get up anymore. One morning the family woke up and found that Chipper had vomited bile all over himself the floor. They had to clean him up. He'd had tumors and seizures. The poor old dog was at the end of it.

Ursula Frattarola told us, "We had a family meeting and talked about maybe putting him down, but our daughter Giovanna told us that if we did that, she wouldn't ever talk to us again." Giovanna suggested they set up a hospice for Chipper, like they had for Grandma. So, the family set up a hospice for Chipper in the kitchen, and the dog spent most of his time under the kitchen table. "We sprayed his mouth with water, the whole thing," Ursula related.

The family prayed for Chipper, and they brought it to their church and the church body prayed for Chipper. Everybody loved this dog. "He was a neat old dog," John said. "He would come to every prayer meeting and Bible study as soon as they started, and he would just lay quietly throughout the whole thing."

Over the next couple of days, the Frattarolas expected Chipper to die.  Giovanna continued to care for her dog. John at one point prayed that God would either heal Chipper or let him die. Then, he just prayed that God heal Chipper. One morning, John went downstairs to check on him, thinking he would find the poor old dog dead.

John told us, "He was lying under the table, very weak. When we came down to check on him, we squatted down to look at him under the table, and he lifted his head up and turned and looked right at us. He hadn't done that for a good week and a half, maybe two weeks. The vet had said he probably had a tumor, but there was no more sign of anything wrong." Still very weak, Chipper struggled to get up, but then headed straight over to the door to go outside.

Ursula fed Chipper chicken broth and rice and some bits of chicken, and after a couple of days, "he was just like he'd always been." He was able to jog old-dog fashioned around the back yard.

Ursula said, "I asked the Lord, when it is his time to die, please let him go in his sleep. Don't make him go through this again." A few months later, on June 12th, 2002, they found Chipper in his bed. He had died peacefully in the night. "It really taught us a lot about how God cares about even the animals - and a child's love for an animal," Ursula said.

Barney the Hamster:
"We had just moved back to Ohio," Juanita Middlebrook, mother of three, told us, "and we'd had to leave our German Shepherd behind. Bill and I had told the boys we'd get them another dog, but the place where we moved didn't have a fenced-in yard. So, we gave our middle son Scott a hamster."

They all enjoyed Barney the Hamster.

The Middlebrooks kept Barney's cage down in the basement. The basement had rooms, but they were unfinished. Winter set in and mice became a serious problem. Bill Middlebrook asked a neighbor what to do about the mice, and the neighbor suggested getting d-Con. So, Bill put d-Con in the basement for the mice.

Of course, Barney got out, as hamsters do, and he disappeared. One day, Juanita went into a storeroom, and she saw Barney. At first she was glad, but she quickly grew concerned. "He tried to bite me," Juanita said. "He was weaving back and forth. One eye was bulging out and one was sunken in, and he was weaving back and forth. It was obvious he'd gotten into the d-Con." Bill was going to just put Barney out in the field, but they decided instead they would tell the boys the truth.

Bill and Juanita went upstairs and got Tim (9), Scott (8) and Phil (4) and took them downstairs to see poor Barney. Bill said, "I'm sorry, but Barney is going to die, guys. There's nothing we can do." Scott said, "Can't we pray for him?"

"So," Juanita said, "We joined hands and prayed." The whole family stood in the basement holding hands and the little boys prayed in faith for their hamster.

The next morning Bill went downstairs, expecting the hamster to be dead. Instead, Barney the Hamster was running around in his box, as healthy as could be.

"It wasn't our faith," Juanita said. "It was the boys' faith." Those little boys didn't think a hamster was too small a thing for God, and God healed Barney.

It is easy for us to think that our problems are not important enough to worry God with, as though He has only a limited number of interventions he can offer the human race. "Whoops. You used up your last prayer for the year on that empty gas tank. Sorry." No, God has no quota. He has no limits, and He cares even about our pets. 

When we are struggling through something major, something massive, and we feel as though God isn't even paying attention, we need to know our feelings are wrong. God is paying attention, and every detail matters to Him. The God who started the spinning of the most massive galaxies is the same God who placed the little bitty ribosomes in our cells. Nothing is too small for Him. Nothing is unimportant to Him.

Jesus told his disciples, "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." - Luke 12:6

Sparrows...or hamsters.


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