When God Says No

I had a plan for what I was going to post today, but then something happened on Thursday night that changed my focus. I returned home from my late work meeting a little after 9:30. I was sitting in my living room, reading blog comments and checking Facebook, when I heard my cat Tom meow loudly in the other room. We went to see what was happening and found him lying on the floor in respiratory distress. My husband and I rushed him to the emergency vet, leaving our 16-year-old son at home.

Sadly, Tom did not make it. A blood clot to the lungs took the life of my ornery but loveable cat. He was only 9 years old. He will be missed dearly. But having heard the news from the vet, I knew that the hard part was still to come. We had to go home and tell our son that the cat he loved, his birthday present when he turned 7, didn’t make it. We decided to take Tom back home with us to let our son help decide whether to bury him or have him cremated.

Because I was planning to work only a partial day on Friday anyway, because of an eye exam, I decided to just take the whole day, and my son stayed home with me. (This is a kid that never misses school, even if he is sick, but he just was so upset he wasn’t up to it).

At one point in the day, as we were talking about Tom, my son said, “You know the really bad part? After you guys left to go to the vet I stopped everything I was doing and just prayed that God would make Tom better. But He didn’t.” Suddenly, I was at a loss for words. All I could say was that I was thankful Tom had died with us around, and not out carousing around (as he was known to do) so that he would just not come home, leaving us to worry and wonder what happened to him.

Now, I have learned from years of Bible study, prayer, and experience that sometimes God’s answer to a prayer request is “no” or “not now.” I have learned and firmly believe that God sees the big picture and that when the answer is “no” there is a good reason even if I don’t know what it is. I trust God with the answers even when I don’t understand, because I have a lifetime of experience that I can look back on to see that He was faithful in the important things.

I know that in our broken world, pets and people die. It would be impossible for God to answer every prayer that someone or some pet not die. But I also know that God cares about the pain we experience. John 11:25, the shortest verse in the Bible, says “Then Jesus wept.” This happened at the death of Lazarus, who Jesus knew He was about to raise from the dead. I believe Jesus wept here because of the immeasurable compassion He has for us when we experience loss and don’t understand the bigger picture.

But having learned all this through years of Bible study and experience didn’t make it any easier to answer my son, who hasn’t had that experience and doesn’t know the scriptures as well as I do. As I thought about this later, still trying to figure out what I can say to him, I realized that the faith and trust in God I have now isn’t something I can just hand over fully formed to my son. It is something he must learn himself, though his own Bible study, prayer, and experience. This experience is one step in that journey of faith that he must travel.

My prayer now is that my son will see how this experience has taught him compassion for others who experience loss. I pray it will ultimately act as the mortar in his faith, helping to hold it strong in the face of greater loss that he is sure to experience in this life. I am thankful that God holds all the tears he cried over poor Tom in a bottle, mingled with the tears of our Savior, and that “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NLT).


I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


12 Responses

  1. I’m sorry for your loss Linda. At least you know what happened. Our cat just never came home and we still wonder what happened.

    | > “It would be impossible for God to answer every prayer that someone or some pet not die”
    This is so true and can present minor problems when praying for elderly loved ones. Every person and every living thing WILL die. There has to come an end and we have to leave it to the One who knows everything to decide when that end shall be.

    • I agree; I am so thankful that I do know what happened. Tom disappeared for 16 days about 3 years ago, trapped under our neighbor’s house, and that was much more stressful because we never knew if he was coming back or what had happened to him. I am thankful that he did not die all alone somewhere. Peace, Linda

  2. That was so sudden, Linda. So hard when you are expecting them to live quite awhile longer. I’m so sorry. At the same time I’m blessed by your insight into your son’s experience going through this. Praying with you that God speak something special to his heart, to encourage and build his faith, even when he’s hurting.
    When my youngest daughter’s cat died of kidney disease, too soon for us, I was concerned at how she’d handle it. He was such a special boy for her, like a big marshmallow that let her dress him up, stroll him around, lay and sleep with him in her arms. She still misses him so much sometimes, but then talks to herself and says, “If I still had Sheba then I wouldn’t have gotten Celia from the shelter. And since she can’t see, no one else might have taken her.”
    God bless you, Linda, and comfort you at the loss of Tom.
    love, deb

    • Deb, Thank you so much. God is already working in this. My son and I had another conversation about Tom while walking the dog, and he said he was mad at God. I told him that was okay, there’s a whole book of Psalms where David was mad at God, and that God could handle it. Later when we got in the car to go somewhere the song “You Build Us Back” by the Newsboys came on, and he said it really spoke to him because even at times like this we know God builds us back. I think this was as much a lesson for me to let my son work out his own faith as much as anything else. And I know we’ll get another cat again someday, and he’ll still remember Tom and miss him, but love the new cat just as much. I so appreciate sharing the story of your daughter and her cats. Peace, Linda

  3. We had a similar situation a couple of weeks ago. It was our grandson’s dog – and he felt he was too old to be upset. It is hard to explain, but thankfully we don’t have to take responsibility for the event, our dear Lord takes that onto his own shoulders. Prayers and thoughts from across the Pond.

    • Thank you for the prayers and thoughts. This is actually the third pet my son has lost (at least that he remembers). I am thankful that he doesn’t think he’s too old to be upset about this, which may be in part because my husband was not afraid to show that he was upset. As my son said this morning, we’ll never have another cat like Tom. We do still have our dog Roman, and we may get another pet. Peace, Linda

  4. Thank you, Linda

    This is a great post.

    Thank you for sharing even in your pain.So sorry you have to walk this path. I too will keep your family in prayer.

    I don’t always know what God is up to but I do know nothing catches Him off guard. Praying His leave over you and yours.


    • Ann, Thank you for your prayers. I don’t know what God is up to, either, but I do know that in the grand scheme of things He’s got a purpose for even this. Peace, Linda

  5. My sympathies go out to you and your family, what a difficult loss.
    I love what you said about your son, and how you can’t just pass faith on to him “fully formed.” …But the way you live your life is a shining example to him! God bless you and may He ease the pain of your family’s loss.

  6. Linda, I am crying over the loss of Tom too. So sorry for y’alls loss, but like you I am praying it will indeed be a marker in the faith walk of Benton.
    blessings to all of you…love ya…patty

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