Last night when I got home from choir I went to check on Bella’s recently acquired gerbils. There are two of them – Rick James and Lucy. Rick James was Bella’s gerbil for a semester long experiment last semester. After the class was over the students were given a choice to either keep the gerbil or to donate it to the zoo to feed the snakes. What kind of choice is that? Get attached for 3 months and then send it to its death? So Bella chose to keep Rick James. She also “adopted” Lucy, one of her other classmate’s gerbil.
So…after the issues we had with rats a few months back (plagues), I was trying to see these little rodents as something different…even working up the courage to hold one of them. Every day I check on them but last night something was different. Something was wrong with Lucy. At first I thought maybe she was trying to have some babies since she had gotten a little plump over the last week. But I quickly realized something was seriously wrong.
Lucy was in a little ball with her eyes barely open and her breathing was labored. The only time she would move was when Rick James would get too close and then she would almost fling her body across the cage to other side. When Bella got home we took Lucy out of the cage and put her in a cool-whip bowl lined with paper towels. Eventually Lucy died. I was so incredibly sad. I really don’t know why I reacted so strongly as I thought I hated rodents. But this was so sad to me.
I hate death. I hate it because it takes those we care about away from us. Whether it is a beloved dog, a new gerbil, or the person we love most in the world. I think I got so upset because I have seen a person die and I had such an incredible sadness about the end of life. Death is such an offense to God’s creation.
Should death be an offense to us? Yes. But death can also serve as a reminder to us of how our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death. It should bring us back to the cross. So when someone we love dies should we grieve? Of course we should. However, the Bible tells us in 1 Thess. 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
Now, I know what some of you are thinking…how can I equate the death of an animal to that of a person? I can’t – not really. I know that animals and humans are totally different. And I really don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not our beloved animals go to heaven or not. The Bible just isn’t clear on that one. I will leave that debate to those more scholarly than I. I would love to think that I would get to see my sweet dogs that have died when I get to Heaven…but I don’t know. I do know that I sure don’t want those rats we killed awhile back running around on the streets of gold. So…it’s a mixed bag.
But I do want to use this sad occurrence to bring me once more to the cross and remember that death has ultimately died. That God is in control of everything…even this little gerbil’s life and death. (“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29) And that He is a loving, merciful God.