Dick Whittington (and his famous cat) is another example of a rags-to-riches fairytale. Dick was a penniless orphan who dreamed of making his fortune in London where he believed the streets were paved with gold. Disappointed to find this was not the case, he managed to secure lodgings with a merchant, but his attic room was overrun with rats and mice and the merchant’s cook treated him cruelly. He saved up to buy a cat who ate all the rats and mice, but had to sell the cat to help the merchant and was then left back in the position of dealing with cruelty and vermin… and ran away, only to be arrested by the church bells ringing with the message ‘Turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice mayor of London.’
This vision sustained Dick through the ongoing difficulties of persecution by the cook and oppression from vermin, a reminder to us that God’s calling and the prophetic word which comes to us can have a powerful place in our lives, sustaining us as they did Abraham through testing times and times of waiting. (Rom 4:18-21)
Dick’s fortune was eventually made by the cat, who freed royalty from a plague of rats. The king rewarded the merchant with gold and jewels, and the merchant passed these on to Dick on his return, since it was his cat which had earned the fortune, thus enabling Dick’s future role as Lord Mayor of London.
Dick Whittington reminds us that our present suffering cannot compare wit hthe glory that is to be revealed in us. (Rom 8:18, 2 Cor 4:17-18) and that we are called to faithful in all we do. DIck’s sacrificial giving of his cat to the merchant reminds us that what we give to Jesus is able to be multiplied by Him (John 6:8-13). Faithfulness to our calling, perseverance despite opposition and a trust in God’s providence are all foreshadowed in this story and remind us that God is working for our good in all situations. (Rom 8:28)