Gods Covenant with the Animal Kingdom
By Carol L. Galka-Agnew, D.V.M.
I have spent the vast majority of my life's waking hours asking "why" about multitudes of questions. As years have accumulated, the focus of my inquiries has narrowed to the question of what happens to animals after their time on earth. Although this question is a small piece of the grand puzzle of our existence on this planet, its' answer has become the central theme of my life's purpose.
My years of studying medicine made me deeply aware of God's complexity and intensity and passion regarding His creative processes. From the overall magnificence of the universe, to the most intricate detail of the individual molecules that comprise this creation, the bottom line is: "God is awesome!"
Even though I cannot begin to understand God's decisions regarding even the simplest aspects of His creation, I can fathom that God is Good, and His mercy endures forever. God has an ultimate perfect plan to restore all of His creation that has suffered the consequences of the great war, The Fall, or however you wish to refer to the battle that is occurring between good and evil on this planet. I believe this redemptive plan involves all of God's creatures, not only human beings.
I always thought by the time I passed the twenty year milestone in practicing veterinary medicine, I would have many more answers than I do now that I have actually reached that marker. I find the saying, "the older you get and the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know" to be a truth that is ever expanding. For every answer I find, I can think of an additional multitude of questions in every arena of life. We do, indeed, live in a complex world; and if we wait to voice our opinion until we have all the answers, we would simply cease to communicate about abstract issues such as theology, philosophy and ethics. Consequently, I have come to realize if I don't reflect on the few answers I have discovered now, I probably never will.
So, as an anniversary celebration of sorts to mark 20 privileged years of serving God and animals by practicing the art of veterinary medicine, I give you my thoughts regarding the question of the spiritual nature of the animal kingdom, and the answers God has so graciously provided to me.
Carol Galka-Agnew 1998
DEATH AND SAYING GOODBYE
The subject of death is a difficult one to address. The Bible says death is the last enemy. Human and non-human, all inhabitants of this earth exist in mortal bodies. Each individual must die. Knowing that with our rational minds does not necessarily mean we are able to emotionally accept death.
We all must say goodbye to loved ones, human and animal alike. The separation and ordeal can be less of a torment if we recognize that under the skin, be it smooth, furred or feathered, we are all created by God; and God has made provision for all His creation. When it is time for our animal companions to leave this world, we need to understand that they go to a better place. They do not cease to exist, any more than humans do.
God knew how difficult this life journey would be for each of us. He provided animals to assist and comfort us on this sojourn. And, God has provided for the animals in eternity as well. Heaven is a very, very, very big place. Scientists say our physical universe is continuous and ever expanding. This physical dimension we exist in here and now is only a small portion of God's multi-dimensional universe. There is plenty of room for all the creatures that have ever lived on this planet in the heavenly kingdom.
The Christian philosopher, C. S. Lewis, explains this concept perfectly in "The Chronicles of Narnia." In "The Last Battle" when the inhabitants of Narnia get to the "real" world on the other side of death, the further in they go, the bigger the world gets. The wisdom and joyous hope proclaimed in these "children's" books is a pure treasure for all animal lovers. I can only imagine the impact these books would have had on me if I had discovered them as a child!
The Bible is so very clear on the matter of death and immortality regarding humans. It also has many passages that allude to our animal companions in the afterlife as well, if we read the Bible with a hopeful heart. Hope is not a mere wish, but unshakeable confidence concerning the future. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that "faith is the substance of the things we hope for." I spent so many years desperately hoping that animals are immortal spirit beings. Eventually, God was able to show me that anguish and despairing hope are not really hope at all. Joy is incorporated into true hope. Joy and happiness are central themes for God's eternal plan. The Bible is almost overwhelmingly hopeful in its' references regarding our future life in God's eternal kingdom. From our limited perspective, it does at times seem "too good to be true" when we contemplate God's promises found in the Bible.
One of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith is that we are to believe in God's promises that seem too good to be true. In I Corinthians 15:19 (see ref. #16), a
Several key questions are addressed regarding Biblical perspective on God’s revelation and significance for including the animal kingdom in His covenant agreement with humans. This particular excerpt deals with “Death and Saying Goodbye” to our beloved companions, of which I believe will be of great comfort to those in need, and lend insight to the suffering we all must endure in this life. (Download available at end of excerpt)