Last spring when the trees showed only a hint of green, we drove south to warm weather. When we arrived, the palmetto palms were green and gave cool shade from the sun’s already hot rays. Vacation brings changes from the ordinary routines. Palmetto palms are not maple trees, and 84 degrees is different from 44. High up in the branches of the palm tree, a wren was singing a happy welcome. Vacation meant that I could pause and marvel at God’s simple blessings.
Each morning the wrens would sing a greeting. I responded to their song with my own greeting, “Good morning to you also,” and a prayer of thanks to God for this little blessing. Those blessings are all around us all the time, but the computer screen and the inbox don’t often leave the opportunity to remember the words of Jesus: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26). He feeds them, gives them beautiful voices, and supplies them with wings to fly from one palmetto palm to another, just as he cares for us and all the birds.
The bright sun and cheery song ceased at night. Then we closed our eyes, turned off the light, and fell asleep. The news the next morning brought a different darkness and troubling songs the wrens cannot understand. We heard the angry voices of conflict and argument. The bitter wails of sorrow and loss. The loud noise of sirens and the sobs of parents who lost their children to the loud shots of a gunman. That darkness intrudes so often and in so many different ways.
The sounds and sights of such darkness is so dramatically different from the wren’s song and the shade of the palmetto palms. One is a beautiful reminder of God’s care and love. The other is a troubling reminder of the darkness of the human heart. Yet both are part of life here. The birds have been singing for centuries, and wars, bloodshed, and conflict have been harsh jarring notes that sometimes make us forget the birds’ songs. Sadly, as long as the sun rises and sets, we will have both.
God has heard and still hears both notes. And he chose to do something. Even before the first darkness appeared, he loved the world with its wrens and woes and sent Jesus so that all who believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life. He promised something different—a world where tears, sorrow, pain, and conflict would not exist.
We often think that God should have planned something different and given us life here without sorrow and danger. Perhaps we even think he has failed. That thought comes when we see the tragedies of others or must confront our own losses and cries of anguish. As hard as it is to remember, God is God. His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. In the song of the wren, God has reminded us that we are more valuable to him than the birds.
He proved that by sending Jesus to cleanse us of the darkness, and he extended a promise to open the door to that world without darkness. He did that for us, not the birds. The song at the top of the palmetto palm is a happy reminder that God has so much more for us, even if we must endure the darkness for a time.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 109, Number 07
Issue: July 2022