It’s amazing how much hamsters can teach us about God and ourselves and how the world works.
The pastor’s daughters had two pet hamsters, and they put them in a wonderful hamster cage. This cage had everything a hamster’s heart could desire: wheels, tunnels, treats, companionship, lots of food and water. However, one of the hamsters dreamed of a better life, because he started digging through the wall of the cage. The pastor took note of it, but decided to wait until it got worse before he patched the hole.
Well, the hamster was more determined than he’d guessed, for one night it made its escape.
But the pastor knew something that the little hamster didn’t. Outside of the cage was a cat. The cat’s purpose was to devour the local mice population, but being a well-fed cat he more often nibbled on the mice rather than kill them outright. He was a sadistic torturer, gnawing on rodents before releasing them and catching them again.
This hamster was in for a world of hurt.
So the pastor found himself wandering around the house, talking out loud to the oblivious hamster, who was nowhere to be found. “Come out! Don’t you know what’s going to happen? That cat is going to mangle you and torture you to death, and all you have to do is show yourself and I’ll put you right back in that plush cage. Where are you?!”
As he stumbled through the house looking everywhere for this stupid hamster, he realized that this must be how God feels most of the time. He has created this beautiful environment for his beloved creatures, with boundaries that keep them safe and happy with plenty of blessings and joy. And all they want to do is break out, little dreaming that death lies in wait.
We humans are so eager to break the bonds of “morality” and “convention,” without realizing that these are lines drawn by a loving God, the bars of a cage that keep out a ravenous destroyer. And this destroyer doesn’t kill immediately. He lulls us gently, then wounds us in secret places so we only realize days or months or years later that we are bleeding.
The pastor told this story to a group of young adults, and—predictably—it spurred a whole host of hamster stories. One guy talked about a hamster that always fought him. He tried to hold the pet, but it squirmed and kicked and tried its best to wriggle out. In the end, the hamster escaped and was killed by the cat. Story after story featured these dumb little hamsters, who didn’t know what was best for them and ended up committing suicide in various gruesome ways.
The Bible often likens us to helpless, witless animals, namely sheep. Let's try substituting the image of a hamster for a sheep:
"All we like hamsters have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all..."
"My people have been lost hamsters. Their owners have led them astray...They have forgotten their cage."
"...they were harassed and helpless, like hamsters without an owner…."
"Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the hamsters in his cage."
Gives a different mental image, doesn’t it?
We are the dumb little things that God has created and loves to death (we are more precious than many hamsters).
We are the rebellious ones who think we can find freedom outside of God’s protection.
We think that stepping on other people to get to the top is freedom.
We think sleeping around is freedom.
We think holding onto unforgiveness is freedom.
What we don’t realize is that this “freedom” is far worse than a cage. It is a slow, painful death at the hands of a killer, thief, and destroyer.
Maybe I need to write a book on this...something like God and Hamsters: A Theological Exploration. There would be plenty of stories.
Photo Credit: Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis