Loving the Cockroach

I know of a brother who housed a tank of cockroaches in his home; I’m not sure if he still does. What I am more certain, to the point of almost complete certainty, is that for many of us, the only good cockroach is a dead one. And that unlike the title of this writing, “love” and “cockroach” simply do not belong in the same sentence.

If you have a child-like sense of wonderment at this amazing world we live in, you may have often wondered why God has created the creepy crawlies of the world (Gen 1:24)—and sustained them. Yet, the very first chapter of our Bible reveals that the staggering diversity of life on our planet is not an accident; it was God’s intention that the world be filled with a rich variety of species, and God considers it all to be good. Psalm 104 further echoes God’s delight in the richness and diversity of his world.

The psalm begins and ends with a call to praise God, reminding us that the purpose of creation is, from first to last, to bring glory and praise to the Creator. What is striking is the breadth of God’s concern and delight in creation, which extends far beyond the neat boundaries of settled human life and civilisation. God does indeed provide richly for human beings, making grass grow for cattle and providing plants which bring forth wine, oil, and bread for human cultivation and enjoyment. However, his provision goes beyond to “give water to all the beasts of the field” (v11). Wild donkeys and goats, birds of the sky, hyraxes—all the wildest parts of creation that do not serve humanity are all cared for by God. This care and provision extend even to those creatures whose existence disrupts human livelihood, even posing a threat to human existence, to the lions and the beasts of the forest. Even the dreadful Leviathan—a mythical creature representing unconstrained chaos and terror—is but one of God’s creatures, created for his sheer delight, formed to frolic (play) in the seas (v26).

In the psalm, we find a God who is bigger and more powerful than can be imagined, a God whose purposes are often beyond our understanding. Through the Bible, we find a vision that challenges any exclusively human-centred narrative of God’s purposes in and for the world he has created. Think about it the next time you encounter that “good” cockroach!