“Mom, that cat keeps coming around. Look how skinny she is!”
The cat looked fairly young, but was skin and bones. She came onto our porch and stood by the door, meowing loudly. Will got a saucer of milk and the kids watched her lap it up hungrily. Although you are not supposed to feed strays, we couldn’t help but care about the hungry creature.
At the kids’ request, Tom put a box in the garage and after dark each evening, the cat would jump up on our porch, then head into the garage and into the cardboard bed. The kids put a blanket in there, and the pitiful little thing would curl up and sleep until we let her out the next morning. Before long, I found myself buying cat food at the grocery store. I felt a little sheepish about it, but she was so small and hungry looking…
Tom said we needed to take her to the vet and get her checked out and spayed, so we made an appointment. The little cat, by now good friends with Mary, let her pick her up one morning, and on the way to school, we stopped by the vet’s to drop the cat off. All the way there, the cat tucked her head under Mary’s arm. She was shaking from fear, but Mary cuddled her close.
Later that afternoon, I got a call from the vet”s assistant. The cat was suffering from feline leukemia, and they would have to put her down. Sudden tears sprang into my eyes. We had tried to help the cat, but we’d taken her to her doom, I thought. I could still see her in the back seat her head under Mary’s arm. But she was suffering. It was for the best. Will and Mary would be crushed, I knew, and I didn’t look forward to telling them.
“It seems like such a waste,” Will said sadly that afternoon when I broke the news. “We even got her those cat toys and things.”
Mary was equally sad, so I reminded her of what a comfort she had been to the cat in the car. It was probably the only love that cat had ever felt. We all shed a few tears. Later on, I got to thinking about what William had said and shared my thoughts with the children.
I told them that love is never wasted. Whenever we show kindness or compassion, we not only help someone, it also does something in our own hearts. We get outside of ourselves and stop thinking about what’s best for us while considering how best to help another.
“That’s where real joy in life begins,” I said. “Just as God reached out to us in our helplessness in the gift of His Son, we follow that example by loving others, and yes, even a small, hungry cat.”
Sometimes we love and love and as Will put it, it seems like such a waste. Sometimes our sacrifice and investment in others seems like a complete loss.
Loving others is never a complete loss, however. If nothing else, it changes us, and it reminds us of that enduring love that God has for us. Even when His own Son was crucified by those He came to save, God’s love did not end. Instead He offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life for those who repent and turn to Him.
“…but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~ I John 4:10
We can love others, because God first loved us. We can show compassion, because of the stamp of His image in us. Because of His love, we can even love a forlorn little creature like the one that showed up on our porch. The children named her Kit Kat, and God used her as a perfect illustration of what love is in our lives. Her short cat life was not in vain.