Empathy for a Fish . . .


Sometimes, there’s just no accounting for feeling. I’ve been stopping by a Chinese restaurant lately, on the way home, for takeout. I order wontons in spicy peanut sauce, and sit quietly waiting until they come out of the kitchen with my order. There’s a fish tank in the waiting area. It’s about 5 ft long, 3 ft high, and about 2 ft wide. Inside the tank are several 4-inch gold fish and koi fish, and one very large white and orange, sad-eyed koi.

I sit there, next to the tank, and the fish come over and swim near me. The large koi swims back and forth, up and down, round and round–in a tank that is way too small for him. He does that all day and night, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. If I put my hand to the tank he swims alongside, next to my hand, as long as it’s there, as if he were seeking solace. If I just sit, he swims around and and around, watching me, coming over to the side, staring at me with those dark, sad eyes, and resting in place, until I get up to pay and leave.

I don’t think I can go back there anymore. The sight of him trapped in that prison is making my heart ache. I want to rescue him. Do you think the Lord’s heart aches like that for us, trapped here in our own bondage?

Creation itself [will] one day . . . share the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth.  But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts also groan within ourselves as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free. (Romans 8:21b-23)

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