Although this is not a recent story, it is a story that has weighed heavily on my mind for many months. It took me some time to recognize a few of the many messages easily overlooked. If one only recognized the story as just another happy ending news release much would be missed.
The story goes like this; in late 2006, a mother tiger gave birth to rare triplet cubs. Evidently there were challenges with the pregnancy resulting in a premature delivery, low birth weights, and ultimately the very sad demise of all three cubs. The mother tiger, although physically fine, immediately began to fall into a state of depression and declining health. A call for help was sent out to many zoos in search of orphan tiger cubs that could be brought in as surrogate babies. Unfortunately, no orphan tiger cubs could be found.
Knowing that some mother animals will take on the orphan of another species, the veterinarians decided to take a risk and bring in the only babies immediately available, piglets! In spite of their natural predator to prey relationship the piglets, adorned in tiger striped pajamas, were immediately welcomed by the mother tiger. As you can see from the photos the tiger is very engaged in the maternal experience and the piglet/tiglets are obviously quite content. What human would ever have thought we would live to see a piglet napping on a mother tiger?
As I thought about this heart warming and engaging story, I became aware of three complimentary messages God laid out through these animals. The first connects us with the team providing care to this mother tiger. Against “nature’s odds of success” they stepped up to the plate and took a seemingly hopeless situation and turned it around for good.
James 1:27, Expanded Bible (EXB) says; “Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and without fault is this: caring for orphans and widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence.” The team didn’t walk away from the situation leaving the tiger grieving and certain to die of a broken heart. They focused on caring for the mother tiger and took the risk of bringing in the piglets to soothe her.
Next we see the promise of Psalm 147:3 (NASB) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God provided the piglets to heal the mother tiger’s heart. To encourage the acceptance between the species, God even led the team to bind the piglets in tiger striped material to enhance their surrogate presentation!
Lastly we can see a fore shadow of the confirmation of words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 11: 6-9 (NASB) regarding the return of Jesus. Just like the tiger and the piglets living in harmony, when He comes all adversity will cease between men and beasts!
“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. 7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
If we take the time to look at every situation God’s hand of direction and protection can be seen. Animals know God and do not question Him. Unfortunately most humans do question Him and depend on themselves for everything. God called us all to leave our selfish nature behind, to help meet the needs of the less fortunate, to reach out with kindness and love our neighbors regardless of their race, creed or religion. We need to trust in Him, not ourselves, to pay attention to all that is going on around us and He will show us solutions.
We can all take counsel from the writing of Job in chapter 12:7-10 ( NASB) “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”
Pastor Leslie Becker