by Heather Bock
My family and I will soon be adopting two kittens. We have to make it past our family camping trip, but after that, we hope to bring home two sweet fluffy babies. It is very possible that I am more excited than my kids even are about this. This past February, we lost our beloved cat of 14 years, and although we can’t replace him, our house just doesn’t feel like a home to me without a cat. I’ve always had one or two except for in college, and even then, during my senior year, one would hang around to find some love. Because they’ve always adopted me, I’ve never actually been able to pick one out on my own before, so I’m especially thrilled about this.
After deciding we would adopt kittens, I started looking around and keeping an ear open for possibilities. It turns out that a friend of ours recently had a cat adopt them, and surprise! the kitty was pregnant. Her place of choice was their Jeep, where she gave birth to her six, and now our friend is trying to find a safe place to move them without the mother moving them right back.
A year ago, a similar story was ours, except that the pretty calico adopting us only had one kitten. We took care of both of them in our garage, and as the little guy began to be mobile, we made sure he had a safe place so he wouldn’t wobble off and get crushed by one of our cars.
As I thought about these tiny, helpless creatures needing a safe place to live as they grew, and as I watched their mothers hover close by, making sure their little ones were protected, I thought about the hedge of protection God can provide for us. Stemming from Job 1:10, this phrase is first spoken by Satan to God, accusing Him of protecting Job too much: “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side?”
Psalm 91 is another place in Scripture that describes God covering us with His unbreakable shelter. In it, using a different metaphor, the psalmist writes, “He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark…For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.”
I started to think that maybe young believers are protected by God like the kittens are nestled in their soft, pillowy refuge. I started to make a metaphor in my mind of kittens getting a little more adventurous and launching out of their protective place as they begin to have more abilities and strength. I thought that like the kittens, we too might be allowed to climb out of our refuge when we show we’re ready to face a little adversity without being crushed.
Then I remembered reading a story just the other day in the book Spiritual Warfare by Jerry Rankin of brand-new Christians in the Middle East being killed for their faith. The missionary was beginning to question leading people to faith because every time he would, the new believer would be put to death. These brand-new believers were up against the highest level of adversity possible, and God allowed it. Where was that hedge of protection for them?
Of course, not being God, I don’t have full answers to this question, but I do have a start from Scripture.
The Bible promises persecution, such as in II Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” and gives a lot of examples of it happening. I didn’t find anything saying that baby believers will not be subjected to this kind of hardship. If our Master went through it, we will, too, whether the persecution is from people or from spiritual opposition.
In fact, hardship is considered a good thing, not a bad thing. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” If we weren’t given hardships, we would be weak, unable to stand strong when it really matters.
Here is the good news, and proof that we are sheltered in our kitten bed more than we might know, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times: “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (I Cor. 10:13). We might go through much suffering, but we will never be given anything that will tempt us to sin, even hardship, beyond what we can handle. He always shelters us in that way.
The main good news, and the reason He protects us at all, is that no matter what hardships we endure, He will never stop loving us with the greatest of loves, as is wonderfully spelled out in Romans 8:35-39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Paul goes on to enumerate clearly how absolutely nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
This love moves Him to be with us in our suffering. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). He’s the mama cat, by our side as we face our hard times and adventures. Sometimes He might even pick us up by the scruff of our necks, carrying us back into safety.