by Emily Conrad
One of my kitchen windows is shaded by a metal awning. Birds have been interested in that awning before—some almost made a nest there, in fact—but only recently have we had a regular trio of sparrows bed down there each night.
I like birds, and it’s kind of cool to see them tucked in for the night up close, so I posted a picture of one of the sparrows to Instagram and Facebook. For the sake of encouragement and trying to offer some comfort to anyone who might need it, I made a vague reference to Matthew 10:29-31, and said the sparrows were a reminder that God cares for us.
At that point, I knew I needed to write a blog post for you, but I didn’t think that should be it. I didn’t have other ideas though, so I let my current work-in-progress distract me from writing to you.
It was after five PM when I resorted to my document of blog post scraps, and half an hour later, a post shaped up to share with you. Perfect? No, but none of my posts are. At least I had a plan now.
And then I got a call with bad news about someone close to me with cancer. Not the worst news. As of yet, bout describes the situation better than battle.
I walked away from the post I had planned. I went to the grocery store for some brownie mix, not the answer to all of life’s problems, but a stalling tactic as I processed the news and wondered what to do (if anything) about the blog.
I’m sad but not devastated. I want to tell people about it, but there are some roadblocks to that, such as this person’s desire for privacy. Also, I wonder if my urge to tell people is a plea for pity. Am I just feeling sorry for myself when I’m not even the one with cancer, and the one with it is expected to be healed with surgery?
(Ironically—or perhaps Providentially—I typed that last sentence as “is expected to be healed with prayer” before catching my error. Is that an error? No. Not really. Please pray.)
I pray as I drive home from the grocery store.
I’m sad, God. I know you’re good, but I’m sad.
I’m looking for an answer to a question I haven’t asked: Is it okay for me to be sad?
The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
he delivers those who are discouraged. Psalm 34:18, NET
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Words of Jesus in Matthew 5:3-4, NET)
And so, the reply to my unasked question?
It’s okay to be sad.
I got home from the grocery store and slid my bag of groceries on the counter, no less inspired to write a blog post.
And then I lifted my eyes. The sparrows were back, nestled into the corners of the awning just five feet away from where I stood and right at eye level.
The message was clear: God cares for the sparrows, and He cares for me.
The post I did this morning with that little line of hope tacked on the end wasn’t for any of you. It was for me.
I abandoned the brownie mix. I’m throwing occasional glances into the kitchen and to the milk from my spot at the dining table. I should really put that away, but suddenly, I have something pressing to tell you:
God is near to the brokenhearted.
God answers me when I call.
Cancer, death, and everything else that stems from sin was never what He wanted for us. On our own, we’re helpless against such things.
But where we’re helpless, God has already offered a solution. He sent His son to die in our place so that, when faced with cancer, death, and the host of consequences and evil sin ushered in, we wouldn’t have to mourn like those who have no hope.
And that’s why those Bible verses that acknowledge broken hearts and mourning also speak about deliverance and comfort.
To remind me of this, God tucks in a trio of sparrows for the night right outside my window. He wants me to know—He wants you to know—He’s watching and listening.
He’s active and involved.
We are not alone in this.
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31, NET