“But ask the animals, and they will teach you..." Job12.7
Yesterday was International Dogs Day and I missed it. Mind you, I am of the opinion that every day is "dogs day", if the pampering our pooch receives is anything to go by! But I realise that, sadly, we need such an occasion because, for too many of the "man's best friend" species, life is miserable - on account of their mistreatment by humans (so much for the epithet).
Not only is cruelty to animals a flagrant breach of our duty of stewardship over creation, failing to accord fellow creatures with the respect they deserve deprives us of the significant contribution they can make to our lives. As well as companionship and assistance with everything from guiding to corralling sheep, the verse above suggests that animals generally have a didactic contribution too.
While they can be vicious and territorial, in their better moments animals exhibit character traits which deserve emulating by humans. Who hasn't been inspired by the nobility of the eagle or the freedom of the deer? Whose heart hasn't melted at the loyalty of a dog or the playfulness of a cat? The dependance of animals on their natural habitat for food and shelter, reminds us that all creatures are ultimately dependant on our Creator, whether we acknowledge the fact or not.
But superseding all of these is the example set by our fellow creatures - all of them - simply in their being. It is in their cow-ness, their dolphin-ness, their sparrow-ness that God's creatures best praise their maker. How ironic, then, that of all creatures, human beings apparently find it hardest to glorify God in our human-ness, especially when the Creator himself has provided a personal demonstration of what being fully human looks like!