When your hamster poops (aka Jesus deals with your mess)

I hope pastors can say the word poop. Because our hamster poops. A lot.

Last Christmas, the girls and I twisted my bride’s arm and convinced her to let us buy a hamster. Nibbles became our first family pet, and my daughters couldn’t be happier.

Most Saturday nights, we put Nibbles in her plastic ball to explore the basement/avoid early onset hamster diabetes. But, as the children’s book claims, everybody poops. Even hamsters. Even in their exercise balls.

And no one wants to touch it. No one volunteers to deal with the mess. My wife says, “It’s not my hamster.” I repeat, “Girls, you promised you’d do everything if we bought you a pet.” So, the girls just stare at each other, waiting for the other to act like Jesus and volunteer to serve.

It is very tempting to ignore the issue and avoid the uncomfortable moment of sticking your hand into Nibbles’ soiled YMCA.

Which sounds a lot like us.

Okay, I know you’re not a hamster. And I know you don’t spend your Saturday nights in a giant plastic ball. But we all know how tempting it is to ignore an uncomfortable issue. To assume our mess will clean itself up.

Maybe your mess is envy. You are jealous of your sister’s happy marriage or your buddy’s salary or the success of a pastor/business owner/parent/teammate that you know. And that envy, as God says, is rotting your bones (Proverbs 14:30). It’s making you critical and sad every time you scroll through social media.

Maybe your mess is device infatuation. What started as your digital servant has now become your master. You need your phone. You need to check social media in the morning and then the midmorning and then the late morning. You need to respond to the whip of each ding or buzz. And that slavery is causing you to ignore people and space out during dinner and be half present during staff meetings.

Maybe your mess is baby weight. I don’t mean the pounds you gained. I mean the pressure you feel. The weight of caring for your baby and trying to be a good spouse and trying to cook healthy meals and read your Bible and go back to work and . . . You’re starting to crack and important things are falling through the cracks.

Maybe your mess is self-medicating your stress with shopping or chocolate or wine or porn. Maybe your issue is the competitive pressure of grades or quarterly reports or impressing your parents. Maybe your issue is feeling biblically ignorant around longtime Christians.

Whatever your mess, can I give you some good news? Jesus wants to deal with your it.

Jesus isn’t afraid of envy, addiction, or sin. There is no mess in your life so ugly that Jesus throws up his hands and waits for someone else to deal with it. There is nothing in the little ball you call “life” that Jesus does not want to clean out and get rid of today.

After all, this is the Jesus who invited us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). If your sin has made you weary and your struggle has left you burdened, come to Jesus. He knows how to forgive. He knows how to take the weight off your shoulders. He knows how to give you rest.  

When Jesus paid the price to bring you home, he knew what to expect. He knew you would struggle with this very thing. But he didn’t let that stop him. The Jesus who saw you today chose to shed his blood back then, to make a mess on the cross to bring you home to God.

The longer I live as a Christian, the more freedom I find in being honest about my messes. I find out that my wife and my friends and especially my God love me despite my failures.

He loves you too. Even if you’re running around in a self-made mess.

Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 as a pastor in Madison and now Appleton, Wisconsin. He also serves as a host and speaker for the Time of Grace television program and contributes to the written resources of Time of Grace Ministry. Pastor Mike is married to Kim and has two daughters.


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