I feel a sort of protection over the wildlife in my backyard. As a child, I imagined myself to be like a Disney princess, surrounded by wild animals. As an adult, not much has changed. Currently, there’s a mama robin tending to her nest on my house, a few baby squirrels in our pine tree, yellow finches on my bird feeder, and until yesterday, two adorable bunnies grazing on the frosted green grass each morning.
Now there’s only one. We found the other’s remains leftover from the neighborhood stray cat that’s been hanging around.
It’s nature, but is it really natural? Death of innocent animals? The cuddly cat that becomes a predator? Hawks that swoop in to steal new life?
I’ve been studying the old story of the first garden where death didn’t exist and God’s creation was untainted. Things were perfect then—they were good then, as God declared (Genesis 1:31). The true embodiment of life was witnessed there.
And yet, at the first bite of the forbidden fruit, we ushered in a new natural. One where animals kill not just to eat but for sport, where birds have to chase squirrels from their nests. It’s the circle of life. But is it how it’s truly supposed to be? Or are they just doing their best to survive in this sin-soaked world?
It’s another way creation groans for the return of life as it was. Back when death wasn’t a word upon our lips and the lion laid with the lamb. I think of when God clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of innocent animals (Genesis 3:21). I wonder how it felt to be covered in the skins of animals you named and nourished.
The uneasiness I feel when I witness the death of animals—the feeling of “this is really sad but it’s just life in a broken world”—is meant to direct my eyes to the future. Because of sin, this world isn’t what it once was. But it’s not how it will always be either. One day, the lion will lay with the lamb again, because the Lamb who was slain for us is making all things new.
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 11:6-9 ESV)