It’s summer in Texas, which brings not only heat, thunderstorms and tornadoes, but also the drum-like song of thousands of Cicadas. These little bugs arrived in the trees in our neck of the woods around mid-June. It seems there must be hundreds if not thousands in our neighborhood, because the volume of noise these creatures put out is deafening at times. My habit lately has been to go out early in the morning for some quiet-time around the pool, and just thank God for all my blessings. By 9:30-10:00 a.m. the sun is burning brightly, the temperature is rising, and the cicada-band starts blowing their horns.
The cicadas where we live must be of the variety that isn’t synchronized in their emergence from hibernation. Apparently different species of cicadas are found all over the earth, many having different traits, habitats, and emerging cycles. They spend from one to nine years (or more) underground as larvae, appearing as adults above ground in due time. These strange and wonderful creatures are seen in literature from the time of Homer’s Iliad. They are featured in works of art from the Chinese Shang dynasty. In mythology and storytelling they are seen to be a metaphor for easy living and life eternal.
So… I’m in the pool, enjoying the coolest July since 2007 in Texas, just watching the world go by. and listening to the cicadas singing. Out of the corner of my eye I see a lone cicada on a downward flight path across the length the pool. My first impression is of an airplane on a steep descent about to make a crash landing. In my mind I thought, “that little guy is never going to make it.” Yet, somehow, perhaps through a tiny gust of wind that gave that final lift effect, the cicada cleared the water, and dropped, no bounced several times on the deck, before coming to rest. I image the cicada saying, “I made it!”
Enter, Sugar. Sugar is our dog. A little Shih Tzu rescue who is all lap-dog. Well, not all. One theory about Shih Tzu’s is they were bread and given to Chinese emperors near the last part of the 17th-century. They are loyal, loving, smart and cute. But the one characteristic of most Shih Tzu’s is their alertness. Take our little Sugar for example. She loves to sit between us while watching TV, and any time, ANY TIME, a program or a commercial has a dog in the frame, Sugar leaps off the sofa, charges the television, and begins barking until we make her stop. If we don’t stop her, well, it’s just unbearable at times.
Like those ancient “lion dogs” of the Chinese dynasty, Sugar likes to do patrol several times a day. We have a “doggie door” so she pretty much comes and goes as she pleases. She’ll bark at people passing by, she’ll bark at other dogs barking, she is very alert. She also, like many other dog breeds, enjoys finding little creatures in the yard to play with. By play with, I mean capture and torture until the bug, frog, or tiny garden snake is so traumatized it can no longer move. It may not be dead, it may just be playing-dead, so Sugar will stop the torture.
The last flight of the lone cicada I mentioned before landed within about 10 feet of where sugar was resting in the shade. I believe she must have watched the bug on its descent, because at the first bounce she was up and moving rapidly to “play” with her new-found toy. The thing is, Sugar isn’t mean, or vicious. She doesn’t like to kill the other animals. The torture they must feel, comes in not knowing how to analyze Sugar’s intentions. Well, image you’re the cicada. How would you feel if some large unknowable creature held you in its paws, sat on you, rolled on you, and slowly picked off your wings with its teeth? That cicada might be saying, “I made it all the way across that ocean, only to find myself tortured by this giant!”
Now, here’s my question. Watching this event unfold, I couldn’t help but ask, “Did God just see what I saw? Does God care about that poor cicada? Why would God allow that bug to be tortured in this way? What good does that do? Does God see me as just another distant creature, like this cicada? Does God care about me?”
Right about now, some of you reading this are thinking perhaps I’ve lost my mind, or gone of the deep end of the pool one too many times. Stay with me.
Remember what Jesus said?
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear HIM who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. [Matthew 10:28-31]
We live in uncertain times. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve made it across the ocean of pain and misery, only to be brutally assaulted by another unforeseeable oppression. I know the LORD God of heaven cares for me. I’ve trusted Him with my life. But the pain is still real. The hurt sometimes won’t go away. But I refuse to let it kill me. I won’t be afraid of the next trial to come, or the one I’m in right now. He has delivered me before, He will deliver me again. This deliverance in the now, while very temporary, will one day be permanent, and I will be with HIM forever!
You too, are so much more valuable to God than a cicada or a sparrow, or a little lion-dog. You are the creature God intended to rule the earth. Whatever it is you are going through, put your trust in the LORD Jesus. Claim this truth today:
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” [2 Chronicles 16:9]