“My cat is a great comfort to me. When he curls up next to me on the couch, I don’t feel so lonely.”
“It’s so fun to watch how our dog plays with the kids. Seeing them all sprawled on top of each other after a good romp is the sweetest sight.”
“I love coming home to his goofy, tongue-lolling, tail-wagging greeting. Even if I’ve had a really bad day, he makes me smile.”
“When my kids left home, my cat made the house seem not so empty.”
“I know he’s just a dog, but I’m really worried about him. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
I sat in a Bible study recently while woman after woman shared prayer requests. A dear friend with terminal cancer. A child whose home is in shambles and whose heart is broken. A family going through a severe spiritual crisis.
My eyes filled up with tears, as they often do when I hear about hurting people. This time, however, I was tearing up because of a prayer request I didn’t feel the freedom to share—one for my dog.
We live in a world that is sick and broken. Families are in trouble. People are self-destructing all around us. Young and old are dying without Jesus. That day there was Ebola, ISIS, two hurricanes, and the usual list of crises and catastrophes, and my heart was heavy because my dog was sick.
Does this make me bad?
Are my priorities out of whack?
Sometimes, when faced with really important needs, we feel shamed by the smaller ones. Our biblically-educated minds tell us, rightfully so, that the value of an animal, however beloved, can’t compare to the value of a human being.
Is it right to spend time, resources, and, yes, even prayers on our pets?
Is it OK to love our pets or is it unspiritual? Is our love a symptom of misplaced priorities?
While there is the rare person who would rather save a whale than save a baby, most of us don’t fall into this category. We are people lovers who also love animals. Is this wrong?
I don’t think so.
Scripture reminds me that God places value on his creation—man and beast alike. In Proverbs 12:10, God reminds us that the righteous person to cares for the needs of his animal. In Luke 12:6 he assigns value to sparrows—the tiniest of creatures. They are objects of his care, he points out, although not as valuable as people. God even allows the little birds to nest near his altar (Psalm 84:3). He designed the world with us in mind--for our enjoyment and for his glory, and he included animals.
God delights in making us smile, expanding our capacities to love, and sharing the enjoyment of his creation. Pets help bring this about.
Thank you, God, for including animals in the world you designed. Thank you for giving them the qualities we so appreciate—love, loyalty, a spirit of fun. Oh, if only I could love as unconditionally as my dog. I hope I’m not committing sacrilege, but Winston’s unconditional love sometimes reminds me of you. And convicts me of how fickle and temperamental my own love is. Thank you that while their companionship can and should never replace that of other human beings, they do fill a valuable role in our lives. And when their lives end—too soon, always too soon—may the grief we feel make us long for heaven, where there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain.
Thank you, God for pets.
Winston and I would appreciate your prayers as he undergoes surgery this morning to remove a tumor from his paw. Please pray for the Lord to guide the surgeon's hands, for no malignancy, and for a quick recovery. Thank you, friends!
Would you like to weigh in on the discussion? What are your thoughts about pets? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.
Update on Winston: Thank you to all who prayed. Although his doctor had to amputate one of his toes to remove the tumor, it was benign. He's already chasing squirrels again. :)
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