What I learned from a goldfinch
Walking through my garden one early morning, I heard a fluttering under the cherry tree. My German shepherd pup had a female goldfinch pinned to the ground. He released her when I gave the command, but the poor bird was unable to fly.
Gently, I picked her up and placed her on a branch. As soon as I let go, she took a nose-dive into the ground. Obviously, her wing had been damaged.
I placed her in the screened-in porch, inside an old bird cage I brought up from the basement. I added fir boughs, gravel, shelled sunflower seeds, niger seeds, and water.
I wanted to keep her safe until her wing could heal, but she didn’t see it that way! She saw me as the enemy. She hid under the boughs whenever I came into the room. She bit me when I tried to release her for a trial flight. Although she ate the food and drank the water I provided, she despised me. She couldn’t see the bigger picture.
I didn’t try to tame her or explain the situation to her. I seldom intruded in her world except to provide for her daily needs. She could never understand.
But I understood how that frail little goldfinch felt, because I’m a lot like her. I can’t see the bigger picture, so I’m often resentful of the circumstances I’m in.
It’s hard for me to make sense of God’s purpose in my life as I deal with chronic pain. I see a world full of freedom and opportunities just outside my reach, but I’m confined to a cage – physical pain –and I don’t understand. I often find it hard to be thankful for the blessings I have because I focus on the cage and the blessings it seems to keep from me.
Health issues aren’t the only things that imprison us in a state of hopelessness, anxiety, and resentment. The death of a loved one, concerns over finances, worry about our children, depression, addictions, stress, a troubled marriage, unhealthy relationships, fear of the unknown – the list is endless.
“Don’t be afraid; just believe,” Jesus instructed Jairus, a man who had good reason to give up hope (Mark 5:36).
“Don’t be afraid; just believe,” Jesus says to us when circumstances seem hopeless and we can’t understand what God is thinking.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
God our creator, the artist devising the picture, has a reason and a purpose for each brush stroke, and someday – maybe not on earth, but someday – we will see the completed picture.
I can’t see the bigger picture now. I can’t see or know what God knows. But I have a choice my wounded goldfinch didn’t. I have the choice to believe that God is still in control, even when I don’t understand. I have a choice to believe that God loves me and continues to care for me.
I choose to believe with the psalmist that “the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).