Izzy, our Cairn terrier, marked her 10th birthday last week.  Not that I am biased, but Izzy is the smartest, cutest, and most people-friendly dog in the world! For Izzy’s birthday, Terese baked her favorite “Johnny Cake” (cornbread) that we all shared—see the picture attached.

As I reflect on Izzy’s life so far I remember two traumatic events that have affected her and shaped her behavior. One day my wife was taking Izzy, leashed and happy, on a neighborhood walk. Suddenly a dog dashed out of an open door of a house, ran onto the street, and started attacking Izzy.  Terese tried to separate the two dogs when the neighbor’s dog bit her on the arm as well. Both Terese and Izzy recovered from that event, but since that time Izzy has defensively growled whenever any dog gets close to us while on a walk.

These days when we are with Izzy on a walk, and we encounter another dog I gently pick her up, stroke her, and quietly reassure her with the words, “It’s okay…it’s okay”. It is comforting for her to know I am there to protect her, and she has learned to understand and trust that she is safe with us. Over time Izzy has regained confidence around other dogs, although at times I will occasionally notice her slipping into her old, defensive behavior. Now simply saying the words “It’s okay” will calm her down as we move on. Yesterday she encountered another dog on our walk and barely gave it a second thought. “Izzy is an overcomer,” I thought to myself as we continued on the walkway.

About the same time as the dog attack, some neighbors across the street from us decided to fire some (illegal!) fireworks in the air, many of which exploded above our house with a loud “boom.”  The noise terrified little Izzy who looked for a safe place to hide. Since that time she still trembles and crawls under furniture whenever thunder or distant fireworks are heard.

This spring we’ve had had a lot of storms here in Florida, and the thunder can be deafening. One day as Terese and I came home we saw Izzy under our dining room table, trembling in fear as the storm raged outside.  We calmed Izzy down with soft, reassuring strokes and gentle words “It’s okay…It’s okay”. Soon she was calm and relaxed with the comfort that she was safe with us. “Izzy stills needs our comfort and touch” I reminded myself as we moved on through the day.

All of us have had events in our lives that still affect us months, years, or even decades later. Perhaps someone intentionally or unintentionally hurt us physically, mentally, or spiritually. Perhaps an event in our lives—an illness, health scare, job loss, or death of someone we loved— rumbled through our lives like a deafening storm.  As human beings, we all have memories that can quickly resurface when an encounter, event, or words bring them front and center again in our minds and hearts.

Even in the storms of life, God never leaves us helpless and alone, especially when we tremble with fear. God alone can heal and restore us from the damaging events of the past and give us peace, comfort, and assurance in the loud, thunderous events of life. We experience God’s touch through time with Him in prayer— in the power of His Holy Spirit that is active and available to all who have said ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ. He knows we need His continuous touch, and is always ready to give us His grace and loving, divine touch.

We also experience God’s power in healthy fellowship with other Christ-followers, and sometimes even through trained and gifted Christian counselors who can walk beside us in challenging circumstances.  Finally, and of monumental importance, God’s Word is an essential component of our healing and restoration. With his healing touch and living Word God reminds us that we are His and He and has etched us into the fabric of His very being, saying:

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

Isaiah 49:15-16

Jesus promised that His powerful, healing, and peace-giving presence would always be available to us:

“…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Finally, God gives us the peace that comes with His presence within us:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Remember, God cares for you deeply and wants you to continually experience His touch that comforts and reminds us “It’s Okay…it’s okay”. Someday when we see Him face to face, I’m convinced He will welcome us not only as beloved daughters and sons, but also as his “overcomers”. That will be more than okay—it will be heavenly!

God bless you.

Chris Atkins