It had been a long time since I heard God speak in such a clear, unmistakable way. It took me by surprise. Of all things he could have used to send me a message, he chose a bird. A plain, small backyard sparrow delivered a message that I will never forget.
It was 2002 and I was home with a small baby and an unemployed husband. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, my husband’s job was eliminated only three months after the birth of our firstborn. Our savings were draining fast, and I was afraid.
I knelt by the couch in our family room and cried out to God. For the first time since my husband lost his job, I was transparent in my prayer:
“I’m scared. How are we going to pay the mortgage?”
Was God aware of the price of diapers and baby formula?
As I finished “informing” almighty God of all that was going on in our lives and our imminent needs, I felt a strong need to be quiet and wait for him to speak.
Silence filled the room and several moments passed by. I was about to give up when I heard it:
I looked up and saw the sparrow, sitting on the lounge chair outside my window. It seemed to be looking straight at me.
“Look at the birds of the air, Patricia. They do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet I feed them daily. Are you not worth much more than they?”
I knew where the words were printed: Straight from the Sermon of the Mount, one of Christianity’s most beloved passages. The sermon is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking in the New Testament, and it includes some of Jesus’ most famous teachings, such as the Beatitudes, as well as the widely recited Lord’s Prayer.
In my Bible, the subtitle of this particular passage of the sermon is “The Cure for Anxiety,” a passage often quoted as a reminder that nothing escapes the omniscience of a loving and caring God.
This happened 15 years ago and I’ll never forget it. The question often replays in my mind when I see sparrows lining up on electric wires:
“Are you not worth more than these?”
Whether it’s unemployment, illness, or any other trial or need that we may face, the question remains. And although at times the magnitude of the trouble that assails us is such, that it becomes almost impossible to grasp this truth within our hearts, the answer never changes.
Yes. We’re worth more than those.
We’re the apple of his eye.
That’s Jesus’ point, really.
At the end of the passage, he invites us to, instead of fretting and worrying, seek God’s presence, his kingdom and righteousness … and then let God be God.
The job didn’t come right away. As a matter of fact, my husband was out of a permanent job for 18 months at that time. But God kept sending small jobs here and there, and often provision came from unexpected places. We never missed a meal. God provided for each one of our needs, even if at the eleventh hour.
While walking through that desert and many others I’ve faced since then, “seeking his kingdom and righteousness” has become my main focus.
No, it’s not always easy. It’s often a struggle to believe past the hurt, pain and confusion. But just as he provided to that bird that joyfully chirped to a distressed young mother on a cold winter morning years ago, I choose to believe he will keep taking care of all my needs, protecting and guiding me through the hard times I face. He’s done it so far. Why would he not do it again?
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author, blogger and international speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches,” is on sale at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon and retailers worldwide. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com.