“‘Why not start off the new year with a furry friend from the animal shelter?’ my cousin, Jill, suggested. I’d been suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after being mugged a few months before, and I knew she was concerned for me. As anxiety and night terrors persisted despite counseling, the only thing I had to cling to was the Scripture, Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“But even with this message replaying in my heart, I couldn’t imagine anything making me feel safe again. The Bible verse felt hollow somehow, a lovely string of words I was no longer sure actually pertained to me. “When Jill finally forced me to visit the shelter, I felt sure it would be a waste of time. But after just a few minutes, I came upon a golden mix puppy with such compassionate eyes that I began to wonder if I was wrong. God…will this really help me?
“‘Look!’ Jill exclaimed, pointing to the tag on the kennel. ‘His name is Isaiah, how sweet!’ I gasped and looked closer at the tag, not believing my eyes. “Suddenly, the ball of anxiety and fear unraveled inside me, leaving a feeling of strength in its place. In that moment, I realized that the verse was more than just words: It was God’s promise. I looked into the big eyes of the pup and my heart swelled. ‘Isaiah,’ I said, peace washing over me. ‘Let’s go home!’”
—Roberta Smart, 58, Parker, AZ