Years ago while I was attending seminary, small groups of students would get together with one of our professors on a regular basis for prayer. We would often meet outside, since the weather was almost never an issue in Southern California.
On one such occasion we were struck by the sound of all the birds around us singing. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the birds seemed to be everywhere, and they were all singing their little hearts out. It was as if nature itself was putting on a little concert for us.
Our professor used it as an opportunity to give us an object lesson from the Scriptures. He reminded us of the words of our Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25–26, ESV)
He told us that whenever we saw the birds or heard them singing, we should call to mind Jesus’s words there in that passage. I may not remember half of what I heard in the classrooms in seminary, but that lesson stuck with me. It is one of the simplest, yet most memorable lessons that I learned in my entire time there.
The main point throughout that passage is that we are not to be anxious. And we are not to be anxious because our God will provide for our needs.
That is sometimes easier said than done, isn’t it? There are many things in this life that often tempt us to be anxious and worrisome about our daily needs. Even as I sit here writing this post, people all over the world are suffering through the effects of a global pandemic. And those effects are in no way limited to health-related concerns, as serious as those may be. Some of the worst, most widespread effects have been economic and even social in nature. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many jobs have necessarily been lost as well. It is only natural to worry about making your ends meet when faced with this kind of trial.
If you are a Christian and find yourself faced with such a situation in your life, take a moment and do what Jesus says there in Matthew’s Gospel – “Look at the birds of the air” (v.26). Look at them, listen to their chirping and singing, and be reminded that “your heavenly Father feeds them.” And if He feeds them, He will certainly take care of you as well. As Jesus goes on to say there, “Are you not of more value than they?” And as the hymn writer put it, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
When times are tough, let the birds all around outside be a constant reminder of the providential care of God. And let that knowledge keep you from anxiety, and keep you constantly in prayer to God with thanksgiving.