by Jonathan Daugherty
"Little Whiskers" died last week. He was only 15 months old and the news hit our family hard. My youngest, Megan, took the news especially hard, just crying and crying over the loss. The truth is we all cried and grieved. It was a sad week in the life of our family. I dare say that there may never have been such love ever bestowed in all of history on one so cherished as Little Whiskers, our hamster.
I realize that many of you reading this might have chuckled at the conclusion of the previous paragraph. I too was slightly amused (and amazed) at the depth of emotion my children poured out over the loss of this little tiny creature (hamsters only live about 1-3 years, so grief comes often to those who own them). And I would be lying if I said I wasn't also sad when Little Whiskers bit the dust, but I saw something truly remarkable as I observed my children's grief. I saw the heart of God.
God created Little Whiskers, and Jack (our dog), and the squirrels that dance in the trees outside our house, and all the other creatures that crawl and buzz and swim on this planet. God takes great delight in His creative nature, a sort of divine pleasure in His ability to bring something out of nothing. And even though this natural world of plants and animals also suffers because of sin, the imprint of it's Maker is still found throughout it all. Little Whiskers died, and with his death we were given another small reminder of how broad the consequences of sin are that have fallen on all creation.
As my kids grieved Whiskers, even burying him in the front yard and creating a tombstone memorial to the little 6-ounce creature, I saw in their grief God's compassion for even the smallest of His creation. I saw the tenderness and care that the Maker has for all He has made and that not even a sparrow falls from the sky (or a hamster from his wheel) without His knowledge. My kid's reminded me that God cares about life - in all its forms, great or small.
As I witnessed my children channeling this divine care for such a tiny animal, my mind shifted to thinking about how much greater His care and concern is for people, the crown jewel of His creation. God tells us that His care for us is infinitely greater than all else in creation, so much so that He breathed life into us, giving us in some manner the "essence" of Himself. While His fingerprints are on everything else, His very breath is in us! What immeasurable value this brings to all humanity. Life is precious...
How easy it is for me to forget how fragile and precious life is, even as I spend my years in full-time "ministry." People carry problems, sin, opinions, and all other sorts of "issues" that can make it more difficult to see the value and worth of the person tucked behind all that exterior mess. They whine and complain about the smallest, most insignificant things and become irritable and angry when life doesn't go their way. (Notice my strategic use of "they" and "their," as if I am not part of this circle of humanity. Rest assured, I am...) And it is this sin-stained humanity that sometimes makes it difficult to see the "breath of God" flowing through every person on the planet. Life is precious, no matter how much pain and filth is piled upon it.
One of the most obvious arenas in which I see the beauty and value of life diminished is in the world of pornography and sexual sin. Porn reduces a person to an object, devoid of God's divine breath, nothing more than a product to be consumed. As I think about the people who are used and abused in the porn business, my heart is broken, my eyes fill with tears, and I grieve their death of innocence and purity. They are people in whom God's breath resides, a precious image bearer of the Creator of everything, yet this infinite worth is being veiled and crushed by sin.
For those who consume porn or engage in other sexual sin, they too are experiencing the suffocation of life within, confused as to why the thrill and pleasure of sex isn't fulfilling their deepest desires. A death more potent than the physical is what takes place in the one devouring the lies of lust. Anyone who has feasted on sexual sin knows what I am talking about. It feels as if a noose has been securely placed around your neck and with each image or encounter the noose tightens. Eventually, your inner person is dangling lifeless, unable to access the "air" needed to survive.
The good news, however, is that you don't have to go the rest of your life suffocating. God can breathe new life into any person "dangling" in their sin, whether you put the noose around your neck or someone else did. He made you, He knows you and He can revive you. All you have to do is ask in faith. Believe that the One who declared you valuable enough to die for is able to free you from the noose of your secrets and sin. God weeps for you, grieving the death you are experiencing. "Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
Life is precious. God made it so by breathing it into you. Let us not waste this precious gift by inhaling the lies and pollution of sin. We were meant to live on the breath of our Creator. Anything less is smog. Breathe the fresh air of purity, peace, and purpose today. And as you breathe, share the air. Every person is worth it. The heart of God might just be found in the very air your breathe...
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.