“Please, Heavenly Father,” Amy prayed as hard as she knew how, “bless Toby that he won’t die. I love him so much.”
Amy finished her prayer and rose from her knees. She tiptoed into the next room to say good-night to Toby, her cocker spaniel. He lay asleep on his blanket in the corner, breathing hard. Amy gently stroked his fur. Toby stirred and opened one eye partway. He tried to wag his tail, but even that effort seemed too much for him.
“Don’t worry, Toby,” Amy whispered. “You’re going to be all right now. I prayed to Heavenly Father to make you better.”
Amy left the ailing dog and went back to bed. Believing that everything would be all right, she was soon asleep.
As soon as Amy awakened the next morning, she hurried into the room where Toby slept to say good morning. But Toby didn’t move, even when she shook him. He was dead. Amy started crying, and Mom and Dad came to see why.
“We all knew that it would probably happen soon, honey,” her dad said as he put his arm around her and held her tight. “After all, Toby was pretty old, and the vet said that even with the medicine there wasn’t much chance that he could last through this illness.”
“But,” Amy whispered, “but …” It was all she could say. Her throat was too tight to let any more words through.
“It’s always hard to lose someone you love,” her mother said softly, stroking Amy’s long blond hair. “We’ll miss Toby, and no dog could ever take his place. But there are other little dogs who need a good home and lots of love. After a while we’ll find the one that’s just right for us.”
Amy scarcely heard her mother because her own thoughts were so loud in her head. Why? Why? WHY? she agonized. I prayed to Heavenly Father to make Toby well! How could He let him die?
Amy didn’t feel much like eating breakfast that morning. She pushed her cereal around in her bowl until it became mushy. Mom seemed to understand how Amy felt. “Why don’t you go out in the sunshine, honey? It’s the first day it hasn’t rained for weeks!”
Even though Amy didn’t want to play, she went outside and sat on the front porch. She just couldn’t understand why Heavenly Father had let Toby die. “I felt so good after I prayed, like He was promising me that everything would be all right. And now Toby is dead,” she murmured sadly.
She got up from the porch and walked around the house. Seeing her older brother Jonathan’s bicycle made her feel even worse. Amy had wanted a bicycle for her last birthday, but they lived on a steep hill and her mom and dad said no. “Your legs aren’t quite long enough yet,” Dad had said. “Maybe next year.”
Jonathan gets to do everything! Amy thought. I’ll bet I can reach those pedals.
The more she thought about it the more determined she became. “It’s not fair!” she suddenly said out loud. “I didn’t get a bike, and now Toby’s dead.” Almost before she knew what she was doing, she was taking Jonathan’s bike and wheeling it into the street. I’ll show everybody I’m big enough to ride a bike, she thought as she stretched her leg as high as she could to get it over the bar.
The bike wiggled and jiggled as Amy tried to balance on the seat. Finally she made it, and the bike began to roll downhill, slowly at first, but then faster and faster. “Wheeee!” Amy shouted as she raced down the hill. “I knew I could do it.”
Suddenly Amy saw a big chuckhole in the road, but she couldn’t turn quick enough to miss it. The front wheel lurched crazily when it went down into the hole, and Amy flew off onto the road. The bike careened into a tree a little farther down the hill. Amy lay very still.
“Amy! Amy!” Mom called frantically as she ran down the street. “Amy, are you all right?”
Amy stood up shakily. She wanted to cry. The whole side of her arm and her leg where her pants had ripped were badly scraped and bleeding. “Oh, Mom,” was all that Amy could say as she let her mother help her back up the street toward the house.
It took a long time to clean the gravel out of the wound. Amy winced at the pain but she held back her tears. She was trying to think.
Mom didn’t say anything until the scrapes were all patched up. Then she took Amy’s hand in her own and said, “You know, honey, when Dad and I decided not to get you a bicycle for your last birthday, we weren’t just being mean. We felt that you were still too little to ride one, and we did what was best for you. Sometimes you have to trust Dad and me.”
When Mom got up to put away the first-aid kit, Amy pulled her back down beside her. “Mom, I think … I think maybe that’s how it was with Toby.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean, dear.”
“Well, I asked Heavenly Father to make Toby well. And I never prayed so hard for anything in my life.”
“So when Toby was dead this morning, you figured that Heavenly Father had let you down. Is that it?”
“Yes, because after I prayed I felt so good—like everything was going to be OK. But maybe it wasn’t right for Toby to live. Maybe I prayed for the wrong thing.”
“Why don’t you think it was right for Toby to live?”
“Well, Toby was old and almost blind. I guess I wanted Heavenly Father to make him well so I could play with him again, not so Toby would be happy.”
Mom put her arms around Amy and gave her a squeeze. “I think you’re right, Amy.”
Later that day Mom asked, “Would you like to go to the pet store next Saturday to look at some puppies?”
“Oh, Mom,” Amy squealed, “let’s. Maybe we can find another Toby.”