A Strange Beast Indeed!
If you have read any of my posts over the last few months, you may recall that I've been studying the book of Job in the Old Testament. I finally got to the end the other day, yet I'm still thinking about a crazy section in it that I came across toward the end of the book, in chapter 39.
In six silly verses in the center of this chapter, God speaks to Job about the ostrich. Huh???? What does the ostrich, of all things, have to do with Job's horrific suffering and his demand for vindication as a righteous man? Honestly, it's hilarious. You should take a look. Job 39:13-18. Go read it now. It's as if God's saying "Look at this crazy thing I came up with. Yes, I made this wondrous bird. You can't possibly make any sense out of it, so stop thinking you could ever fully understand my mind, either. Look how silly it is!" Even though I've seen these odd creatures various times in zoo captivity, I did a bit of research to learn more. Here are some of the crazy tidbits I found: 1. The ostrich is the largest and fastest moving bird. It is a bird, but it cannot fly. It can travel at speeds up to 45 mph, grow up to 9 feet tall, and weigh up to 320 pounds. An egg can weigh up to 3 pounds, and a baby can be the size of a chicken. 2. The Libyan ostrich and the hornbill are the only birds having eyelashes. 3. The ancient Romans particularly liked roasted ostrich wings. 4. Ostrich eggs were greatly admired by the ancient Persians, who sent them as tributes to the Emperors of China. 5. An ostrich omelet made from one egg will feed about 8 hungry diners. 6. My Bible discusses ostriches twice, both in Lamentations 4:3 and Job 39:13-18. 7. The ostrich only has 2 toes per foot. All other birds have 3 or 4. 8. It often eats sand and pebbles to help grind up the food in its gizzard, a small pouch where food is crushed and ripped up before it travels on to the stomach.
9. During a predator attack, the male ostrich attempts to lure the predator away. The mother ostrich just runs for her life, oblivious to whether her babies are following her or not. 10. Contrary to popular legend, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. They do lie down when threatened, though, and the head and neck blend in with the sand color. 11. A solid ostrich kick can kill a lion. What a strange piece of creation, indeed! And here's what the Lord himself said about his creation in the book of Job (in my loose translation): Job 39:13 It flaps its wings ridiculously, but yet it cannot fly.
Job 39:14 Mothers lay their eggs and leave them totally unprotected on the ground. Job 39:15 The mother doesn't care if predators stomp on them or steal them. Oh well. Job 39:16 The mother ostrich has no maternal instincts; her labor and delivery didn't enamor her to her babies. Job 39:17 The ostrich is dumb. It has no common sense. Job 39:18 At least it can run fast.
Perhaps God means to show Job through the ostrich that every creature, whether familiar, mysterious, difficult, or odd, is similar to suffering. Sometimes we can recognize its purpose, but other times it's simply painful and puzzling. Whether we understand our suffering or not, it seems to be part of God's order for us at times. Who'd of thought there was such a message for us from the ostrich? A strange beast, indeed!