by Danielle Ilacqua
Patience doesn’t just land on your lap because you pray for it. God allows a situation to manifest in your life to exercise patience. Same with faith. The Bible says, “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).
My mom went to heaven after a battle with the ugly disease of cancer on February 9, 2017. I had many sleepless nights begging, pleading and crying out to God for Mom’s healing. In the end, God’s will was done and Mom went home.
For a long time, I felt as though God did not answer my prayers. In fact, I truly felt God said, “No.” As a result, my faith regarding God’s willingness to heal suffered.
But three years and six months later, God increased my faith through a 1.8-pound puppy. I pray Max’s story encourages you on your grief journey.
Max is a Yorkie puppy, 11 weeks old. I got the bright idea of getting Max a month ago. I wanted something to love again. So what better way to bring some joy into my life than a little teething, wee-weepad-peeing bundle of fur? As I played fetch with Max on a Wednesday night, he brought such happiness to me. He bounced like a bunny rabbit as he hopped around the living room fetching his toys.
“Good boy, Max, you’re so smart,” I said as he retrieved his unicorn toy. This toy had a tennis ball head and was rather big. In fact it was bigger than Max, and that contributed to his adorableness as he ran with his toy. After many tosses back and forth I was distracted looking at something else on TV, and Max brought the toy back to me but was sort of behind me. As I grabbed the toy to throw it, unbeknownst to me, Max latched on. I accidentally threw the toy with Max into the air. He landed head first on the hardwood floor. Max seized up immediately and did not move as he laid on his back crying.
He showed signs of neurologic abnormalities. His pupils were different sizes, his head tilted left, and his spine arched so his entire body leaned left. I scooped him up crying hysterically, “Oh Jesus please don’t let this puppy die,” as we drove to the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group (VERG) around 10:00 p.m.
On the way, I prayed fervently and single mindedly. “Lord, only say the word and Max will be healed. Go before us and give the vet divine wisdom and discernment to treat Max. I touch the hem of your garment Lord Jesus for Max.” Prayers that did not line up with what the vet would soon tell me.
The vet confirmed that Max sustained severe brain trauma. Max was paralyzed on the left side. The vet put him on oxygen, blood pressure medicine, steroids to decrease the swelling in the brain, and heavy pain meds. The next morning, the vet called and said, “Your puppy is suffering.
He’s not responsive, his gums are pale, his blood pressure is dropping, his lungs are filled with fluid, and I am very worried for him.” The vet recommended he be put to sleep.
I asked to see Max in-person but the vet wouldn’t allow it because of COVID-19. Instead she Face-timed me with my limp puppy lying in an oxygen cage with tons of wires plugged into his tiny body.
I said, “Max,” with tears down my face. He immediately opened his eyes and looked at me. He seemed to recognize my voice and looked alert—not brain dead. I told the vet,”Let’s wait. I have to think about this decision. Please continue treating him with the medicines.”
I didn’t want to lose this puppy: my two older dogs had passed, one in January 2020 and the other in July 2019; my mom three years ago; my aunt last year, as well as two good friends. I prayed. “Lord only my faith can please you, and I have faith for healing, faith of the Centurion. Only say the word because I can’t lay hands on Max.” Jesus came for the sick. Jesus healed. He never turned anyone away. I read every bible verse about animals. I reminded myself that when God created the animals, He said, “It was good.” He takes care of the birds who neither reap nor sow. He sent ravens to feed the Israelites. He cared about the sparrow’s death. He loves animals. And He loves Max.
I quickly emailed two of my pastors at church and asked them to pray for Max. I put him on a prayer line with other animal lovers on Facebook. I requested that friends and family intercede. I asked Jesus to touch his little body. I fell asleep crying to God.
The vet called back just six hours later and said, “I don’t know what happened but Max took a turn for the better. He sat up on his own, ate food, his blood pressure stabilized, and the fluid in his lungs dissipated. The X-ray is showing a completely different result from the morning.” Praise God, Max is alive, but the vet wanted to monitor him because he still was not walking.
I asked the vet, “This means you don’t recommend I put Max down?” “No, the prognosis has changed,” she said. “I don’t know what happened.”
I do. Jesus happened!
God turned for good a situation that the enemy meant for my harm. The guilt and grief I would have tortured myself with had Max died was exactly what the enemy wanted. But God had a miracle for Max. His grace is sufficient and His mercy is endless. God hears the prayers of the righteous. Max stabilized. Even though the vet thought he may not walk again, he is running! He is now a happy little puppy again and not neurologically damaged.
I am forever grateful that Jesus cares for even the little things in our lives such as a puppy. Please be encouraged. Sometimes the death of our mother can cause us to give up on healing. But the Word says, “He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8). And His Word cannot come back void. God IS a healer, a way maker, and a miracle worker!