Looking up anxiously at his mother, Bobby pleaded earnestly. “Don’t cry, Mommy.”
“Bobby, we are in trouble,” answered his mother. “Daddy has left us, and he said he’ll never come back!”
Mrs. Smith’s tears fell over the baby she was nursing. She had five children younger than Bobby, who was eight. Their father, who had been out of work for some time, had just deserted them. What was she to do? They were so poor! Who would look after them?
“Mommy,” said Bobby, “that’s very bad news, but God knows our trouble. He will help us when we pray to Him. I heard a Bible story about God helping a poor widow with her boys.”
“But He doesn’t love me, Bobby,” sighed his mother. “I’m not as good as I ought to be, and I’ve not thought much about Him. No, he doesn’t love me,” she finished sadly.
“The Lord is so good. He has been good to us all the time!” answered Bobby eagerly. “When Emmie is naughty and stays out playing instead of coming in to bed when you call—you still love her, don’t you?”
“Yes, but that’s different,” said Mrs. Smith, “and you’ll see He won’t help me now when I’m in such trouble.”
“He will if we ask Him!” cried Bobby confidently: “It’s in the Bible! We learned it in Sabbath School. ‘Ask, and it shall be given you. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him’ (Matthew 7:7, 11)? Mother, let’s ask Him right now.”
“Well, all right,” said Mrs. Smith, wiping her eyes on her apron.
Calling his brothers and sisters together, Bobby made them all kneel down with clasped hands. Then he and his mother knelt too. “Now, Mother, pray,” Bobby whispered. But Mrs. Smith could not say a word. She felt as if there were a great lump in her throat. It was long ago that she had tried to pray.
So Bobby prayed. “God, Daddy’s left us. Make him come home. Help me and Mommy to earn money and get food for the children for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
Mrs. Smith and the children said, “Amen.” And the children jumped up, eager to do something else. Bobby rose too, looking very serious. “Mommy,” he said, “my teacher says we must do our best and work hard. I must work as well as pray.”
“But Bobby, what could you do?” asked his mother.
“I can sell matchboxes or newspapers,” he answered eagerly.
“The streets?” exclaimed Mrs. Smith. “Oh my boy, I’ve always tried to keep you off of the streets!”
“God is everywhere, Mommy. Isn’t He in the streets, too?” asked Bobby, wonderingly.
“Yes, of course He is. Well, we have no choice, so you must work in the streets. I have just two coins left, Bobby. You may take one and see what you can do.” Mrs. Smith sighed in helpless frustration as she watched her young son set out to look for work.
Bobby, on the other hand, was delighted. A friend of his sold newspapers, and could make forty-four cents in one night by selling newspapers in the streets.
Bobby had a clear voice, and it seemed to carry everywhere as he walked proudly along, singing out the name of the newspaper like the other newsboys. Evening after evening he earned money in this way for his mother.
Each evening, before leaving for work, Bobby gathered his mother, brothers, and sisters around him. He would read the Bible and recite the texts he had learned in Sabbath School. Then he would ask God for His help and protection. He also prayed that God would save their father and return him to them.
All went well until one evening, when the rain came down in torrents. Mrs. Smith wanted to keep Bobby home, but she desperately needed the money so she reluctantly let him go out.
He came back soaked and chilled. Mrs. Smith hurried him to bed. He became very hot, and mumbled in his sleep. The next day he was worse, and could not even lift his head from the pillow. The following night his mother sat up with him, for he seemed barely conscious.
During the long, quiet night, Mrs. Smith thought about the stories and texts Bobby had learned in his Sabbath School classes, and she prayed to the great Heavenly Doctor to heal her boy and return him to her.
In the early morning Bobby opened his eyes, and recognized his mother. But his first words were, “Mommy, do I hear Daddy?”
Mrs. Smith looked up in amazement to see her husband entering the room.
“Hester,” he said to his wife. “I’m very sorry I’ve been such a bad husband to you. But I’m a changed man now, by the grace of God. And what’s more, I’ve found a very good job, thanks be to God. But what’s this? Is Bobby ill?”
“Bobby will get well now,” exclaimed Mrs. Smith. “Let’s thank God for it.”
Husband and wife knelt together beside Bobby’s bed, and with trembling voices thanked Him for His goodness.
How God Sent a Dog to Save a Family, Reformation Heritage Books, ©2007, by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleynm, 123–126.