Like a lion

Context: This poem arrived after I watched a TV programme about a man who brings up rescued sun-bear cubs in his home. He does this in order to save them from the cruel bear-bile industry.

Giving them all the loving care they need, he slowly, painstakingly rehabilitates each cub, introducing them to the world, just as their mother would have done. Eventually, the young bears graduate to a Wildlife Centre, where they have lots of space to express their natural behaviours and instincts, and to interact with other bears. The man’s constant purpose is to give these traumatised, motherless creatures a rich and satisfying life, which is exactly the same as Christ’s aim for us all (John 10:10; NLT).

Whilst praying without words, I saw that this man is like a mother-bear to the cubs, just as Jesus is like a mother to us all. No matter what damage we have sustained in life, Christ’s purpose is to heal and rehabilitate us, just like the man caring for the orphaned cubs:

I won’t leave you orphaned; I will come back to you. A little while now and the world will see me no more; but you’ll see me; because I live, and you will live as well. On that day you’ll know that I am in God, and you are in me, and I am in you (John 14:18-20; TIB). 

We can’t see God, but the Bible is packed with vivid images, metaphors, similes, poems and parables which illustrate different aspects of what God is like. Here is just one example:

Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that is what God is like (Psalm 48:12-14; NLT; my emphasis).

This verse is particularly useful, as it demonstrates the limitations of figurative language, as well as its richness. Such images are not meant to be taken literally. Rather, they are an invitation to meditate on the qualities of God they can reveal.

Then, when I had seen all this, these verses arrived:

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

God is like a lion,
Like a tiger,
Like a bear.

God is like an eagle,
Like a raven,
Like a dove.

God is like a keening,
Like a murmur,
Like a plea.

God is like a father,
Like a mother:
God is love.

God is like a mountain,
Like an ocean,
Like a storm.

God is like a day-star,
Like a comet,
Like a sun.

God is like a heartbeat,
Like a whisper,
Like a sigh.

God is like a father,
Like a mother:
God is One.

God is one (Mark 12:32; NIV).


There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).

The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness. For we don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit expresses our plea with groanings too deep for words. And God, who knows everything in our hearts, knows perfectly well what the Spirit is saying, because her intercessions for God’s holy people are made according to the mind of God (Romans 8:26-7; TIB). 

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