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“Like A Bird in the Hand!” Matthew 8:14-17 Key verse(s): 16-17:“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’.”


The little thing struggled and writhed to escape! The little finch, barely a couple of ounces of fluff and feather, struggled mightily against my grasp. It had flown into what it thought was a forest canopy which turned out to be something a bit less inviting, a reflection of the forest behind it in our great room window. It had been fortunate having struck the window obliquely and not head on. Head on crashes usually invoke a broken neck and instant death. But this little finch had been fortunate. It was stunned and pretty bruised. I had found it spread eagle on the deck, beak wide open and eyes glazed. It was in shock and in a matter of minutes it would succumb to the cold if not for the warmth of my hand. As I picked up the bird I could see that it must have hit the window with its breast having been distracted at the last moment by something that moved either within the house or without. It had turned its head with a wish to head in another direction. Its momentum, nonetheless, had prevented it from changing course in time. The breast had taken the full impact and now little fluffs of breast down billowed into the air as I lifted the bird within focus of my bifocals to inspect for damage.


It was only a matter of moments before the little bird began to regain its senses. First the eyelids began to function again; followed by the neck. Focusing in on the hulking figure peering down at it, despite the pain I knew it felt from the bruising and strained muscles, it began to push with all of its little might against my grip. I could feel those tiny claws first gripping and then relaxing. Its natural instinct, to escape and find shelter, had taken over. He tried to spread his wings within my hand but could do nothing more than push and squirm. Thinking perhaps that it could now fend for itself, I gently placed it in the bough of a nearby spruce tree. Although one foot grasped the bough with all its might, the other would not close and the little bird fell in a ball to the snow beneath the tree. I picked him up again and thought better of trying to perch him again. It was obvious that his neurological system was still feeling a good deal of the impact that was affecting his motor skills. Despite the safe haven of my hand he would have none of it. His struggles renewed, he now began attacking with his beak. If he couldn’t push my grip apart he would try to hammer it into submission. But, the bird could know only fear, not relief in my grasp. Despite the level of its pain, its fears far outweighed the pain it was feeling.


As I watched that little bird climb higher and higher into that tree I was suddenly struck by his misplaced fears. If it had not been for my hand and my attentiveness to its well-being, perhaps that little bird would be lying in a frozen heap right now in the middle of our deck. As much as my hand had provided security, even a life-giving warmth that it probably could not have found anywhere else, the finch would have nothing to do with it. He wanted out no matter how irrational or painful the consequences might have been. His fear of me entitled him to nothing more than a great risk of death not the comfort of freedom and long life it was certainly seeking.


I walked back to the house feeling a bit miffed by the whole thing. The harder I had tried to help the finch the more ornery it had become. You would have thought that it would have nestled in for a period of time and simply basked in the warmth of my hand, waiting for the pain to subside. Undoubtedly it was now perched high up in the tree proud of its fine escape but racked with body pains. How terrible it would be, I mused, if our children acted that way toward our tender care when they were ill or injured. Can you imagine trying to cover your child, shivering from a fever, and he bolted up and sought out the darkest and coldest corner of the room just so he could escape the pain of the fever? What does a child do? They reach up when in pain and ask to be hugged, to be held until the pain goes away. But, isn’t that the way we act sometimes when pain enters into our lives. In fear we try to run away from the pain, to escape its grasp, seeking a higher ground from which we can look down upon it, only to find that we still have the pain and have only succeeded in escaping the hand that could grant us security and comfort in our pain, God’s. Pain should drive us closer to Him, not away from Him. When God pulls the blanket of His love over us in times of pain, we ought to take the example of the child and not the bird. We may still have the pain, but there is no better place to dwell in pain than in the hand of our Heavenly Father.

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