Today, one of my best friends who happens to be my cousin, had to euthanize their family dog, who succumbed to cancer. Kim and Matt had Charlie since the early days of their marriage, and like most newlywed couples, Charlie the dog was like their first child. Charlie was exceptionally smart and well-behaved. In fact, I wish our two dogs now had half his manners! We all loved Charlie.
We have had to have two dogs euthanized and one died on her own. Each loss hurt tremendously and I felt like I’d lost one of my best friends. I pulled this out of my writings that I wrote after we had to put our dog, Amber, to sleep back in 2004. Today I’d like to dedicate the message Kim, Matt, Joe and Jason in memorial to Charlie! RIP sweet friend.
HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW
This past March, I had to take our beloved dog, Amber, to be put to sleep. Now, if you’re not an animal lover, you may be thinking, “It’s only a dog.” But if you’ve ever loved a pet you’ll know how difficult it is to make that decision.
I’d had Amber since I was 15 years old—a little over 17 years. Before I met my husband, had babies and became a “grown up”, I had Amber. Yes, she was just a dog, but she did teach me a lot about loyalty, unconditional love and devotion. Though I’d had other pets growing up, she required a bit more care and attention (I couldn’t just leave her in the cage like a guinea pig or hamster), teaching me responsibility and how to nurture another. And during her puppy “chewing” phase, she taught me patience—I went through a lot of shoes. She was a wonderful companion.
So, other than memorializing my pet’s memory, what does this have to do with the Bible? Well, it got me to thinking about where pets belong in God’s kingdom. I desperately wanted to believe that somehow my dog—my loyal friend—was in some sort of “doggie” heaven.
Once I asked a former co-worker, who happened to be going through seminary, if dogs go to heaven when they die. He explained to me that the Bible didn’t say anything specific about pets, because back in the time it was written animals were either food or workers. So, unfortunately, there are no “Rover” verses for me to look up in my Concordance! Yet we know God created animals, and it does speak of God’s creatures. The verse that came to me was Luke 12:6-7. I didn’t remember the words of the passage perfectly, let alone the Scripture reference, but I remembered the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, with the line, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know that he watches over me.” So, when I felt ready, I looked up “sparrow” in my Concordance and found where I could look it up.
Call it coincidence (I don’t), but the verse just so happened to be the one the Sunday School kids were talking about the very next day in Chapel at Sunday School. I’m not sure if my son, Tyler, who was grieving for his pet, made the same connection with that verse that I did. But I found it comforting.
In the Scripture passage, which really begins with Luke 12:1, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, and an apparently “rowdy crowd” (I call trampling on each other rowdy!) He starts to warn them about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He tells them not to be afraid of those people who can do physical harm to them, but instead, they should fear Him who “has the power to throw you into hell.” Not exactly a warm fuzzy, huh? But he goes on, and what he has to say in verses 6 and 7 is heartwarming to me. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” In other words, the mere sparrow was just a lowly creature not given much value here on Earth. But still God cares for it, knowing each of His creations intimately. This Scripture gives me hope and gives us a glimpse at a God who lovingly created our world, down to the tiniest, seemingly insignificant creature.
Our pets, creations of the same loving Father who made us, have a place with Him. Now does this mean dogs and other pets go to heaven? I don’t know. And I am certain that there are numerous arguments to be had about an animal’s soul or lack thereof. But a God who loves the insignificant sparrow created it all, and I can put my faith in that fact. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know that he watches over me.”