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Something to read

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their covert? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food? Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth, when they crouch to give birth to their offspring and are delivered of their young? Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open; they go forth and do not return to them."

- Job 38:39-39:4.

Something to think about

The Lord 'answers' Job 'out of the whirlwind' as the one who 'laid the foundation of the earth'. God speaks as the almighty creator, the maker of all things that exist. Seas, stars, the weather, the animals and their young.

From a modern day viewpoint we might be ready to leap in here and say that actually we know quite a lot about nature now. We know about how and where animals find their food and how and where they give birth. It would be easy to assume we don't need the kind of answer that Job receives.

That's questionable for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a huge amount we don't know about the natural world. For example, around 80% of the world's oceans are a mystery to us. There continue to be many places where non-human animals (we are animals too, after all) live and feed, reproduce and die, without ever being observed by humans. Sadly, this doesn't mean they escape the effects of human behaviour. The climate crisis, pollution, and deforestation are changing habitats the world over, even in those places we have never seen, places we simply do not know about.

Human beings like to think of ourselves as the centre of the world. The Lord's answer to Job rebukes us. Who do we think we are? We are not the creator.

This brings me to my second point. However much information we do gather about the natural world, we can never know it as its creator knows it. There is an intimacy in these verses that exceeds any connection, however deep, we can feel with non-human animals. God loves every part of God's creation with a love that exceeds our knowing and understanding.

There are plenty of places in scripture where the non-human created world praises or speaks to God without any assistance from us. The trees clap their hands. The stones would cry out.

Nature doesn't need us. We are not its maker. Rather, we are called to love and care for the natural world, guided by God whose love exceeds our understanding. We are called to recognise that we are not the only creatures in this world and that God's love and power is shown and responded to in places where human beings have never set foot.


Something to do

Commit to doing more to create habitats where animals and plants can thrive, as God's beloved creatures. This might mean joining action against the climate crisis. It could mean looking at the possibilities for making an area near to you a more hospitable place for non-human animals


Something to pray

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength.

Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.

By St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556


Adapted from a contribution by Kirsten Arding, Canadian missionary to the UK and Administrative Assistant to AOG GB Missions at the time of writing.