Idiot Bird

I’ve been thinking lately about God’s “answer” to Job’s suffering in His speech from the whirlwind. It’s hard to see it as more than a catalogue of creation, a list of God’s accomplishments. And I guess that would be enough—God telling Job, “I made everything. So there.” But I think it’s more nuanced than that. Look at His description of the ostrich, for example:

"The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—
all those beautiful feathers, but useless!
She lays her eggs on the hard ground,
leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather,
Not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked
or trampled by some wild animal.
She’s negligent with her young, as if they weren’t even hers.
She cares nothing about anything.
She wasn’t created very smart, that’s for sure,
wasn’t given her share of good sense.
But when she runs, oh, how she runs,
laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.”

(Job 39:13-18)

God doesn’t seem to be bragging about His creation here. In fact, God admits to creating a stupid bird with useless wings. Why even mention the ostrich?

I think it’s because the ostrich is probably an animal Job wouldn’t have made had he been the creator. Because common sense says that the ostrich is worthless. God, though, looks at this flightless, careless bird and says, “but when she runs, oh, how she runs.” I love this line. I can see God looking at His bird, smiling as she blazes across an open field, almost forgetting about her flaws—flaws He built into her, flaws that make her a bad flyer and a bad mother but flaws that enable her strength, her glorious, extreme speed.

God’s ways are different from Job’s ways, His priorities different than Job’s priorities. God sees beauty and worth in the ostrich.

The application for Job (and for us) is obvious: God does things we don’t understand because God is far more complex than we are, because He can see good in what our limited perspective can only see as bad—circumstances, people.

For me, the application is also personal. I sometimes feel like God’s idiot bird. I look at my weaknesses and I wonder what He sees in me, why He’s so persistent in courting me, in blessing me. And then I remember that God is very, very talented at looking past the bad to see the good, the good He created in me.