It isn’t easy to watch a pet in pain. You have to love an animal to know what it’s like to see them suffer in silence, fight to live a little longer, cringe in their final seconds, until they take their last breath and die. It’s a moment of sorrow, of course, but there’s also the relief that this feeble, helpless creature is finally out of its misery. It’s a good thing that I believe pets go to God.
It’s a pity that our cities don’t look like Eden. We’ve come too far from a garden to value the life that was once sacred in Genesis. The first man was a gardener and his first work was to name the animals. In the pattern of life we have lost, animals and human beings were bonded together by their Maker. Death had not been devised. In fact, it was altogether unnecessary.
But with rebellion came repercussion and a curse fell on the ground. The sacred relationship between man and his garden fell apart in the same breath as the bond between God and man. But with punishment came a promise that order would be restored. Jesus came and He is risen.
The Christian hope is open to animals. In the age to come, the predator and the prey will make their peace. The earth will feed the lion and the lamb. The mother will be without worry that her child has her hand in a viper’s nest. “There will be no one to harm or destroy on God’s holy mountain, for all the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
The Bible paints a glorious picture of the age to come. It’s an America without privatized health care because nobody falls sick anymore. It’s an Africa without civil war because there’s no more wickedness to violate the innocent. It’s an India without poverty because there’s enough for everyone to get their fair share. It’s a city without a cemetery because death will be a distant memory.
We live in the ruins of a, once great and glorious, garden. It’s a world we made out of another. Billy Joel is wrong. We did start the fire and we’re the ones who keep it burning. We have seen the chaos we created from order. But we have also seen the worlds men have imagined in the movies. We have seen the worlds we long for in our verse, art and song. We have dreamed of worlds without the terrors of the earth we live in. Perhaps we dream them because we know it’s where we once lived.
That’s why I refuse to believe that James Cameron has a better imagination than God. I refuse to believe that the Hitlers and the Pol Pots of the world will have the last word. I refuse to believe that history is at the mercy of chance or the roll of a dice; and I refuse to believe that the soul of a dying pet is unmet by the God who made them with the sound of His voice.
We have yet to see the world that God will make when He makes the world, a second time. It’s a world that fills my heart with hope so full that I fear it’s bad for my health. It’s life that is lived without pain, sorrow, death or distance. The garden will be restored. The city will be rebuilt. Man will be friends with God again and all creation will cease from its groaning. A new world is waiting for its citizens. The ones that have gone are merely a step ahead of the ones left behind.
A few decades remain, if I’m lucky, but they will pass by in a fleeting moment. Then will come the sleep of death, when the eyes will close and the spirit will depart, quietly and instinctively returning to its home. It knows the way because it follows the voice of its Maker. Then will be the restoration, the renewal and the reunion of man with His maker and man with his garden. Only this time, it will last forever.