Puppies and Pandemics | The Institute for Creation Research
Puppies and Pandemics
Doom and gloom fill our newsfeeds. Seemingly every hour, more grim headlines emerge. The United Nations now says that the coronavirus crisis is the "gravest threat" that humanity has faced since the second World War almost eighty years ago.1

There are countless ways to grow and learn from this situation, as during any significant historical event. However, some of the lessons I've learned so far have come from an unexpected place: my one-year-old Shih Tzu puppy.

Now, don't worry, my dog has not become my spiritual mentor or counselor. However, God created our universe—and everything in it—to show us little pieces of who He is and to encourage us. Frequently in Scripture, God uses animals to picture many realities. Job, in the Old Testament, looked to some of God's creatures to demonstrate God's complete control over His world:

But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you...
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?2

Later on, in the New Testament, Christ used animals many times during His ministry to remind His followers about various truths. Perhaps one of the most famous animal references is when Jesus urged His followers not to worry about the future. "Look at the birds of the air," He exclaimed, "for they neither sow, nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"3

Being stuck at home with a puppy for a few weeks has definitely reminded me, in a very tangible way, of two truths I need to remember during this time—and all the time.

1. Find joy in every situation.

My puppy doesn't spend his days moping around and feeling sorry for himself. He's an expert at finding something good or fun in everything the day brings, even if it's different than he expected.

Is someone doing laundry? He races around and plays with the dryer sheets. Is everyone stuck at home because of social distancing regulations? He spends the extra time snuggling with us or piling toys at our feet. Is it rainy and depressing outside? He happily sloshes through all the puddles and returns to the house a soggy, tail-wagging mess. He notices the joyful things in each situation.

“That's great if you're a dog,” we might say, “but it's simply not realistic for us as humans.” We have much more weighing on us; we have a better understanding of the hardships occurring in our world.

While that's 100% true, it doesn't mean that realism and joy are mutually exclusive.

A young woman named Betsie understood this better than anyone. Betsie and her sister, Corrie ten Boom, were imprisoned by the Nazis for helping protect Jews during World War II. Corrie eventually made it out of the concentration camp and went on to tell the world about her experience, most famously in her book A Hiding Place.4

Corrie describes how she was struggling to honor God on one particular occasion. She knew she needed to be grateful "in everything,"5 but she refused to thank God for the fleas that plagued their filthy, overcrowded barracks. Those fleas were the last straw of everything she was experiencing, and she would not look for any joy in them. Her sister Betsie gently confronted her and reminded her that everything God brings serves a purpose in our lives, but Corrie still refused to find joy in the fleas.

Some time later, Betsie excitedly ran up to Corrie. She had discovered that their barracks was one of the only ones in the camp that was not ravaged by the abusive prison guards. The guards stayed away from their barracks...because of the fleas! God was using the fleas to protect them and many other women from being abused as often as others in the same camp.

My dog may be happy because of his ignorance of hardship, but for us as believers, how much stronger should our joy be since it is grounded in reality? Our God is completely sovereign and completely good. He has promised to be with us always,6 to strengthen us,7 and to comfort us.8

Even in the midst of turbulent and changing circumstances, we must find our joy in a peaceful and unchanging God. We can then look for the glimpses of His goodness that He imbeds in each of our days, and we can trust that there's even more of His goodness just out of our sight.

2. Stop worrying.

My little dog doesn't sit around fretting about whether or not we'll put food in his dog dish. He doesn't live in dread, wondering if he could somehow lose his comfortable home and end up on the street.

He takes each day as it comes, and trusts that what he needs will be given to him.

Let's be clear: We should be wise, make plans, and be intentional stewards of what we have. That is repeated many times throughout Scripture. It is foolish to live carelessly.

But even while we work and plan, we must live in the knowledge of our absolute reliance on God. Psalm 145 paints a beautiful picture of this reality:

The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.9

We are always reliant on God. This is an unchanging reality. Anything we have is from Him—today, in the past, or in the future. If it weren't for Him, we would have nothing.

However, that fact somehow becomes more relevant in our minds when we're dealing with empty grocery store shelves, overwhelmed healthcare systems, and the threat of unemployment. It's important for us to realize that nothing has really changed. We're still every bit as dependent on God as we always were. That reality is just more visible to us now because of our circumstances.

Our God is still a good Father. He is still bringing His purposes to pass in the world. He still loves us and takes care of us. And He still has everything under His control—from puppies to pandemics.

References
1. Rich, M. et al. Coronavirus Live Updates: Humanity Faces Gravest Challenge Since World War II, U.N. Says. The New York Times. Posted on nytimes.com on April 1, 2020, accessed April 1, 2020.
2. Job 12:7, 9-10.
3. Matthew 6:26.
4. ten Boom, C. et al. 1971. The Hiding Place. London, England: Hodder & Stoughton.
5. 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
6. Matthew 28:20.
7. Isaiah 41:10.
8. Psalm 23:4.
9. Psalm 145:15-16.

*Lauren Pennington is Volunteer Coordinator at the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History.
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