Thundering Joy

Thursday is one of my talk preparation days when I usually work in my office at home. I was checking that one of the plastic cards in my wallet had expired when I remembered that I had left the scissors on the table outside the back door the night before. As I stepped outside and picked up the scissors I heard a strange sound behind me.
I turned around to see ‘Thunder’ our male German shepherd scraping his front nails on the ground as he walked toward me. He looked terrible. It was at that moment that I noticed a dark shape on the ground to my right. It was a tiger snake.

Fortunately Thunder had killed it but in the process he had been bitten. I would find out later that most dogs are dead from tiger snake bites before they arrive at the vet.

I raced into the house and rang the local veterinarian hospital and the nurse said to bring him straight to the surgery. It was eleven o’clock in the morning.

When I arrived at the vet hospital the nurse immediately took Thunder, who by now was shaking uncontrollably, and told me that the veterinarian would be out soon to speak to me personally.

Five minutes later the veterinarian came out and informed me that Thunder was already on an intravenous drip for fluids. She then asked something that did not make sense to me until some time later.

She asked, “So do you want to proceed?”

I answered, “Yes, do what you have to do to try and save him.”

I thought it seemed a strange question because that was why I had come to them for help.

The vet told me that it was too early to tell if Thunder would survive.

Thunder is a beautiful dog. He has a wonderful temperament and is a constant companion to his sister ‘Storm’ and together they are a part of our family.

I left the vet hospital wondering if I would ever see Thunder again.

Over the next couple of hours the veterinarian rang a couple of times to ask if we could bring the snake down to the hospital to be sure it was a tiger snake and to give progress reports saying that Thunder had a 50/50 chance of recovering.

It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when I was speaking to the vet on the telephone when I asked, “So how much is this going to cost?”

The vet told me that each vial of anti-venom was a little over eight hundred dollars and Thunder had received a number of vials so far.

“Your bill at this point stands at $3,000.”

I said, “WHAT??????”

The vet repeated that the anti-venom was very expensive.

I exclaimed, “you could have given me an indication of the cost,” to which the veterinarian replied, “I thought the front counter staff had told you when you dropped the dog off and while I was administering the intravenous drip.”

It was then that the vet’s question came back to me, “so do you want to proceed?”

She thought I knew the cost when I told her to proceed.

She could tell I was in shock and asked did I want to continue with the treatment. I answered by saying that I would need to speak to my wife Rosemary.

When I told Rosemary it did not take long for her to start crying in frustration. That is a lot of money for us to find at this point in our life without planning for it.

We knew we couldn’t do any more even though we love Thunder so I called the vet hospital to tell them we could not afford any more treatment.

Unfortunately when I rang, the vet was busy handling another emergency. When I did get through an hour later the bill had risen to $4,413.75.

I could not fault the vet’s care of Thunder as it was faultless and I would happily return.

My initial reaction was understandably one of frustration and annoyance at myself that I had not checked out the cost and just handled the whole situation better in general.

I had an increasingly sinking feeling in my emotions and heart as the afternoon went on.

“How are we going to pay this? How could I be so unaware? I have let the family down! Why did this have to happen? Thunder is just a great pet.”

On and on I went descending into a darker hole of despair.

It was at this point that the words, “the joy of the Lord is my strength” flashed through my mind and then “rejoice in the Lord always.” These are two phrases found in the Bible encouraging us to live according to a bigger picture than just the one we can see.

That’s Ok for you God but I just spent $4,400 I did not plan on spending today. As a matter of fact God I did not even know I was spending it when it was happening.”

I knew it would cost something but this much?

It was at this point that the thought came to me, “Will you allow your joy to be robbed by your circumstances?”

What a challenge.

Bruce Downes presenting at Yangebup ParishAs Christians we know that our lives are transitory and that we are here on earth for just a short time. In the big scheme of God’s plan what upsets us and even what makes us happy (while important) are just small parts of our much ‘bigger’ life.

To live with joy doesn’t mean we are flippant or care less about what is going on in life but it is about putting our life into a much bigger perspective of God’s plan for our lives and His love for us.

Joy sits under the emotions of our life, which go up and down due often to our circumstances.

When we lose our joy we are really allowing circumstances to rob us of a much bigger picture of who we really are in Christ.

This does not mean we are robots without emotion and heart, but having faith does mean that we trust God’s plan for our lives and therefore underpinning our life is a confidence in God’s overarching care for us.

The next time you get frustrated, angry, disappointed or even hurt remember to rejoice that God is with you always.



Thunder did survive and is doing well but when I picked him up from the vet hospital he had a big bandage around his leg from the drip they had put into him.  When I arrived home the bandage was gone. He had eaten it.

I could not help but laugh wouldn’t it be funny if he died from eating the bandage. I certainly was not taking him back to the vet!!

 Thundering Joy

1 Comment

  1. Robyn Burgess | | Reply

    thunder would just be another child added to your family wouldnt it .how oftendo youup date your blog Bruce

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