Posted March 04, 2011:
A Vet Reflects on Sheep

by Loretta Fritz, working guest at MH.

For several years, I worked as a veterinarian in a rural mixed practice on the prairies of Saskatchewan.

My boss and I were the only veterinarians for about 100 km around. Thus we attended to many species—mostly beef cows, cats, and dogs, but also a smattering of horses and hamsters among other things—even the occasional hawk. One species we did not see often was sheep.

In one way, this was a good thing, because I learned very little about sheep in vet college. What I remember most vividly, and what has proven true in most of the cases I have dealt with, is this: sick sheep seldom survive.

Why is this? Sheep are a prey species. They are what the coyote, wolf, and cougar want to eat. Not surprisingly, predators look for weakness in their prey; weakness makes them easiest to catch. Obviously, it is the sheep that shows weakness that is hunted, killed, and eaten first.

So, no matter how much it costs them, sheep hide their illness and wounds. Their thick wool coats help them to do this.

Sick and injured sheep move, and appear to eat and rest normally until their bodies can no longer function. By the time their human owners notice something is wrong, the wound is usually badly infected, rotten, and full of maggots or the illness is so advanced it can’t be cured. By then the sheep is near death.

In the Bible, Christ talked about sheep; he often used them as an image of people, and one day, I started thinking about that.

I thought about how I, and other people I know, try to act strong, to hide or ignore our weakness, because weakness will draw the predator—like the teasing or bullying kid in school.

We hide our weaknesses to protect ourselves from reprimands at work, ridicule, the cold shoulder, or snide comments from family and friends.

We hide our wounds in our souls and our hearts. We hide our hurts deep under a layer of fluffy white wool. We show the world that we are fine, that we are not hurt. Often, we let our wounds fester away until it seems there is no way we can be healed. The wounds are too big, too rotten, too maggoty to ever heal.

But, we do not have any ordinary shepherd or a rural veterinarian with just a smattering of sheep knowledge taking care of us. We have the Good Shepherd.

God has power beyond our imagination to clean us up, cure our ills, save us. There is no way to hide our wounds from him, and there is nothing he cannot heal.

Sick sheep seldom survive.

Unless they are the sheep of God’s flock.

I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance (Jn 10:10).


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