All Creation Groans

“I’m sorry, sweet girl, I’m so, so sorry.” As I gently removed the last dead puppy from her bed, her whimpers began. Only the day before her belly had been full of life, but her babies came too soon. One at a time, her puppies were born sleeping. Yorkshire Terriers are normally born looking like tiny Rottweilers, with fine black hair covering their bodies, tan tips on feet, ears, and face, and the occasional white marking. All four of these pups were born looking like tiny seals, with no hair to protect their impossibly thin skin. Underdeveloped and naked of fur, they had no chance of surviving. Yet the fourth puppy, somehow, was born alive, moving, and crying but unable to nurse. Its good momma licked and licked, cleaning and warming its tiny body, drawing it up under her own belly to shelter and protect it. While it still lived I couldn’t bear to take this one from her too, but I knew it wouldn’t be long.

Sure enough, the final pup died the next day, and I took it from its sweet, agonizing momma. When I cleaned up her pen, as I removed the towel stained with the gore of her ordeal, she pawed at it and cried, searching desperately for puppies that were no longer there.

I’m not going to elevate the loss of puppies to the level of the loss of a human child—that’s not my purpose in this post, nor is it right. Our animals are a good gift from God, whether they labor in our fields, protect and guide their people, or bring blessings of companionship. Puppies and kittens are among the most delightful of these blessings, so full of life and play and so sweet to hold and cuddle. They grow into beloved pets, exhibiting traits of loyalty and affection, tugging at our hearts and inspiring within us feelings that rise above and beyond mere stewardship. These sweet dogs were not made in God’s image, nor do they possess souls that will live forever. They don’t stand before their Creator responsible for sin; Jesus didn’t die to redeem them. But, as the apostle Paul makes clear, they still suffer under the curse.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. —Romans 8:19–22

Because of Adam’s fall and sin’s entrance into our world, all creation is now subject to the curse (Gen. 3), experiencing misery, degradation, pain, and death. All of nature, from sunsets to seahorses, exhibits the wisdom, power, and glory of God in creation. And all of nature, from tornadoes to terriers, expresses the futility, corruption, and pains suffered by creation. This doesn’t even include the sins of mankind directly against creation in the shape of abuse.[1] Puppies and kittens die, and all creation groans.

Jesus wouldn’t draw a straight line from sin to the tragic deaths of a group of Galileans murdered by Pontius Pilate (Lk. 13:1–5), and neither can I draw a line of causality to my own sufferings or those of Christians around me. God moves in mysterious ways, and his purposes are his own (Job 38–41). But I can say that the sufferings of the animal kingdom derive directly from the fall of mankind, with humans bearing the guilt as the rest of creation bears the brunt.

As a steward of creation I can do what I can to help, but ultimately, I can’t fix this. This calls to my attention the deep sadness in the world—in the very creation around us. Normally I see the sadness of the fall in the people around me, in the trials and tragedies we endure, in man’s inhumanity to man. But looking beyond mankind to this earthly home of ours furnishes further evidence that this whole world is broken by sin. We might even say that Mother Nature weeps and cannot be comforted, longing for the return of the King who will make all things new.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. . . .

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
    and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea. — Isaiah 11:1, 5–9

Oh, my heart hurts for this sweet dog. She didn’t earn the wages of sin, but she is suffering the consequences even so. As a steward of creation, there’s only so much I can do for her. I cannot restore to her these four puppies. What can I do? I can see in this sadness one more compelling reason to long for heaven. I can take courage and walk by faith, anchoring my hope in my steadfast Redeemer, who by the pledge of his Spirit has promised to return with life in full.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. —2 Cor. 5:4–7

[1] William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833), a faithful Christian, not only fought for the abolition of the human slave trade in Great Britain, but also founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, William Wilberforce – Christianity

10 thoughts on “All Creation Groans

  1. I love that passage in Isaiah. It came to mind yesterday when a hawk swooped past my birdfeeder, probably hunting a songbird. 😦 I long for the day when there will be no more harm or destruction on God’s holy mountain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to disagree but I have read many NDE accounts of people seeing their pets. Heaven would be a very cold place knowing a beloved pet is gone and never to be seen again. If God can create a universe in 6 days, raise His Son from the dead, my pets will be waiting for me along with countless other animals. The very idea of going through eternity without my loyal and faithful pets who were with me in my most darkest hours and highest joys, seems far more like Hell. I will not leave them behind in some dark and distant memory when their lives burned so bright and had far more love to give than the average human being I have encountered.


    1. No worries, Bill, we can agree to disagree. To be clear, I am fully convinced the new earth will be teeming with animals! How good of our loving Lord to grant you such precious blessings in your sweet pets. may he continue to pour out his mercy and grace upon your life.


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