According to an ABC News investigative report, sheep may not be as stupid as previously thought. Conventional wisdom says sheep are the ultimate metaphor for unthinking, instinctive behavior. But apparently, not so. Researchers developed intelligence tests for sheep and—surprise!—they can actually learn to make good choices and work with their shepherds.
We can, too.
Infertility spurs a fair amount of unthinking, instinctive, sheep-like behavior. For my husband and me, that meant trying to do whatever seemed to be working for absolutely everyone else. No luck there. So, next up: old wives’ tales. Still no luck. So, we started buying ovulation predictor kits. Did it ever occur to us that no result meant no ovulating? Well…. truthfully? No. We’d stand in the bathroom staring at that stick. “Can you see anything?” “What does it mean if it doesn’t match the picture on the box?” “What should we do now?”
Not knowing what to do, we kept looking for the flock. What was everybody else doing? What was everybody else trying? Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be an “everybody else.” As far as we could tell, we were the lone lost sheep—the only ones who’d somehow wandered way off the beaten path. We felt “…like sheep without a shepherd.” Like there was no one to show us where to go. What to do. How to get answers.
Those words—“like sheep without a shepherd”—come from scripture. They are actually a description of Jesus’ assessment of a crowd that gathered to see him. “They were like sheep without a shepherd” [Mark 6:34]. Clueless. “He had compassion on them,” the story continues, and “so, he began teaching them many things.”
That’s the good news. Sheep can learn. When they are motivated and paying attention, they can absorb relevant information. That’s what the ABC News story reported—and many, many years prior, that’s what Jesus knew.
When infertility makes it impossible to think clearly, to find the path, to catch up with the flock that seems to be having no trouble, the shepherd is available to help. He can teach things that enable the sheep to make good choices. They can learn to recognize the sound of his voice, to respond when he calls, to seek him when they are lost, and to expect his help whenever they are in trouble. They can learn to trust him.
It’s not too much to hope that we can be smart like sheep.
Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com