Daily Devotional for Tuesday May 20, 2003

Do animals go to Heaven?

( Genesis 1:24-30, 2:7 )

Do animals go to Heaven? Without a doubt, this is one of the most frequently asked questions that I get every single day. I realize how important pets are to many people, so I always hate to have to answer this one. But I can't lie. The Bible clearly tells us that animals will not be in Heaven. The reason is this. Of all God's creation, it is only man that has a living soul (Gen 2:7). When our life is over, this clay tablet that we call our body will go back to the dust of the earth, but our soul will live on for eternity. Animals do not have a living soul, so when they die their existence is over.

In the Bible, God gave man charge over the animals, primarily for food. Becoming a pet, a companion, was never the original purpose for animals but is one that has evolved over time. Having said that, I would never try to minimize the role pets play in the lives of many people. I will never forget when I was 5, we got a cat that I named "Cat", what else? I can still remember the day "Cat" didn't come home, and being told the next morning by my mom and dad that he was killed by a car. Soon after that when I was 8, we got a miniature Schnauzer named "Katrina". "Katrina" and I grew up together and I was already living on my own when my Mom called one night to say that at 14, she was very sick and needed to be put to sleep. Even today, over 20 years later, whenever I see a Schnauzer I think of "Katrina". So I fully understand how important pets can be to people and to a family.

During our life, God blesses us in many ways. For many, one of those blessings is our pets. Our pets can be a source of companionship and bring great joy to our lives. That is why when they die, it is natural to experience grief similar to when we lose a friend or loved one. They become part of our life and when they are gone we miss them. I have had many people ask me if it was OK to pray for a pet that was sick. ABSOLUTELY! What is important to us, is important to God. He knows how important our pets are to us, so they are important to Him. After all, He is their Creator too!

I love you and care about you so much. While obviously this is not the most pressing issue of the day, over 40% of families in the United States own pets. Most people at some point in their life will own a pet. Even though it is just an animal, it is a living creature created by God. People become very attached to their pet and it becomes part of their life. Subsequently, when a pet dies, it is a major event. Even though your pet does not have an eternal soul, and for an animal death simply means their life is over, that does not make it any easier. But God is our source of strength and comfort through the difficult times in our life, and can help us to move on despite the pain of losing something that we care for as much as our pet.

I will be praying for you today. I realize that a large percentage of those who are reading this today have pets and that they are very special to you and your family. Enjoy the time that God gives you with your pet, they can be a wonderful blessing from God and a special part of our life during our journey.

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller