The Ostrich Paradox

Read: Job 39:13-18

The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—all those beautiful feathers, but useless! (v. 13 MSG)

What an enigma! This large, flightless bird, averaging eight feet tall with a long neck and long legs, is not described in complimentary terms in this passage. She neglects her offspring and lacks wisdom and common sense, yet “when she runs, oh, how she runs, laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust” (v. 18 MSG). She looks gangly and awkward, but can run up to 40 mph.

The ostrich is also a symbol for people who avoid reality by “burying their heads in the sand,” even though technically ostriches don’t do that. It only appears that way because, since their feathers aren’t designed for flying, when they feel threatened they lie down with their heads against the ground, blending in with the color of the sand. Yet they fight with their feet and a good solid kick could kill a lion. They can be both fearful and brave.

Throughout this section in Job, God described other natural aspects that we find hard to understand, reminding us of animals that we did not create and cannot control, reminding Job (and us) that God is in charge. We might consider the ostrich an oddity among birds, but the God of the universe has a purpose for his creation. As Job acknowledged, “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.” (Job 42:1 MSG). —Denise Vredevoogd

As you pray, praise God for his omnipotent plan, creativity and wisdom.

About the Author

​​Denise Vredevoogd is a private piano teacher who lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan. She enjoys reading, writing, gardening, and spending time in nature with her adult sons and daughters.