Consider the Birds
CONSIDER THE BIRDS
“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 6:26)
Like many others, I am working from home today. The COVID-19 quarantine limits my interaction with anyone but my family. I am thankful for the connection my phone provides to the outside world. However, the constant stream of disturbing news bulletins it delivers makes it challenging to focus.
As I sit here at my kitchen table, wishing for anything to think about other than world issues – to say nothing of my personal issues – what I see out my window further distracts me. Two birds have begun building a nest. Of course, that is what birds do in Spring.
Soon, eggs will fill that nest, and, at the appropriate time, they will burst with young, hungry life. That realization gives me hope. Life, for them, continues as normal.
For me, life is anything but normal. I regularly view the map that shows the ever-encroaching virus. It has not yet reached my county, but it will. I do not fear it, but I can sense the anxiety level in my area increasing. The empty shelves and the non-sensical purchases betray the fear in our community.
My governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close in my state. So, while I can still get a hamburger at the drive-thru window, I cannot meet with the people of God at my church. People can get food, but hope is in short supply.
The end of the world is coming, and the current crisis is a precursor to it – a sign of the end, but I am convinced that this is not it. In the hospitals where people are losing their struggle with COVID-19, exhaling their last breath, recently birthed babies are inhaling for the first time. We mourn death, and we celebrate life. The cycle goes on and our world continues its journey around the sun.
You may be reading my words long after medical professionals have declared victory over this version of the coronavirus. For you, it is only a painful memory or a blip on the timeline. The picture beside the history book caption may show the mound of toilet paper that remained after a summertime “snow-ball” fight. It was the most productive way people could find to use up the store they had accumulated.
You who have the perspective that only a rearward glance provides shake your head at the previous generation’s stupidity. If that is the case, and you are reading this after the pandemic, the rest is a faith statement.
Though COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the world, and though many suffered greatly, the crisis passed. The emergency directives gave way to calm. Life went back to normal—a new normal, perhaps, but consistency returned. The wild ride is over…for now, and that’s the point. Even if normal has not yet returned, it will. Every crisis we face, no matter how severe or frightening, will end.
Jesus’ counsel to consider the birds, however, must not lead to a laissez-faire attitude. He did not tell His followers that the appropriate response to crises is to binge-watch your favorite entertainment while you wait for God to act! Doing nothing would be an inaccurate application to Jesus’ analogy.
While we go through the crisis, it is natural to blame it all – the occurrence, its depth, or its duration, on someone other than ourselves. Indeed, no world government prepared adequately for the current threat. We could argue about their guilt or innocence. Doing so would produce little benefit.
Political leaders change rapidly, and the new ones rarely learn from their predecessor’s mistakes or successes. All would agree that the world will face a similar danger again. While governments may lessen the long-term impact that physical disasters have and help to rebuild once they pass, preventing them is outside man’s control.
We are incapable of controlling everything. That lack of control does not excuse apathy. Instead, it promotes humility, dependence, and peace. Whatever struggle we currently face will end.
There are only two exceptions to the this-too-shall-pass mantra. One is the coming 7-year world Tribulation, preceded by the Rapture. While Scripture has already informed us about how long that threat will last (a fact no one can provide concerning most crises), the world will never return to normal.
Humanity has never dealt with anything that compares to what Matthew 24:21-22 says is coming! Billions will die due to starvation, war, disease, disaster, animal attacks, and God’s judgment. Amazingly, as bad as the Tribulation will be, some will live through it.
The other forever-life-altering event is far more provincial. It is your funeral. While this event will not be world-shaking, it will shake your world. The World Health Organization tells us that over 156,000 on average, die each day worldwide from all causes combined! One day, you will be part of that statistic, even if COVID-19 passes before you do.
The moment of your death is coming. You may delay it, but you cannot prevent it. You can, however, survive it. To survive death may sound contradictory, but the possibility of a better life after death is precisely what Jesus promised (John 11:23-27).
Someone might ask how it is possible to outlive either of these horrendous events. Preparation is the key. Having extra supplies on hand is always wise, but that kind of planning will not save you from what is coming (Luke 12:16-21). The action you must take is the same in both cases. Receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. Put your faith in Him. He is your only hope.
Since either of these events could happen without warning, you dare not delay. Treating this spiritual issue as lightly as most did the COVID-19 pandemic will have far more significant consequences than a shortage of hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. This one will require your soul if Jesus has not cleansed it (Matt. 10:28). Pursue a love relationship with Jesus Christ as diligently and urgently as you now disinfect what you touch and restock what you need.
We must plan for death with the same enthusiasm and forethought as the birds outside my window are wisely and joyfully preparing for life. We prepare for the same reason they do. Both birth and death are coming. We cannot stop either, but we can prepare for them, and we can do so with joy!
What began as a distraction brought my thinking into focus. The birds Jesus had in mind and the ones outside my window were busy, but they were not worried. God takes care of the birds. God will take care of you and me.
Whenever you are afraid, take Jesus’ counsel. Consider the birds.
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