Praying this morning about what to upload to the website this week and sensed “Do not be afraid“ was important. May these words bless, strengthen and encourage us all.
Don’t be afraid - God cares for you!
“For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrows falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid, you are worth much more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31, GNB)
What a peculiar time we are living in! So much fear and anxiety around: fear of terrorism, fear of foreigners, fear of Islam, fear of fire, fear of Brexit, fear of the economy falling. No wonder Jesus said, “People will faint from fear as they as they wait for what is coming on the whole earth...” (Luke 21:26). These uncertain times cause much dread to rise within us. And inevitably the question is asked again and again, “Does God care? Does he know how much of a mess I am in? Does he not want to help?”
Sparrows and other small birds were caught, killed, skinned, roasted and consumed. They were even considered to be delicacies. But they were dirt cheap - two for a penny (literally ‘an assarion’, which is 1/16th of a denarius - about 1/4 of one penny in today’s money). You could get five for two - see Luke 12:6. And yet as cheap and as insignificant as these birds were, “not one ... falls to the ground” without God’s consent. When we read this, most of us think it means the death of these birds: that is, the Lord knows and allows every death to happen. But it could as easily mean, ‘every time the sparrow hops from branch to branch’ - which would be even more remarkable.
But you see, Jesus is teaching that the Father knows us even more intimately. There is nothing trivial in our lives - if we are concerned about it, so is he. And he is concerned in a much more tangible involved way than we first believe. Jesus then tells us that “even the hairs of your head have all been counted” - all 100,000 of them. Think on this: even each of these hairs is important to him and of value because it belongs to one of his children - children he has made and redeemed. There is a special watchfulness that he exercises over us (a loving Providence is how theologians term it). He is Lord and he loves us in minute detail. Nothing about us is too insignificant for him to be involved with or concerned about. What grace!
So Jesus says to each of us, “So do not be afraid, you are worth much more than many sparrows.” God knows what happens to every bird that hops around, or dies; God knows every hair of our heads; God knows; God cares. Fear not. Don’t worry. Be at peace. God is there, closer than your next breath.
God knows from the inside, having been born as one of us, having become one with us, every instance of suffering. God is there beside the child dying of dirty water. God is there when every soldier is ripped apart by bullet and bomb. God is there alongside all those who are terminally ill. God shares your every sadness and fear and terror. God knows. God cares. Fear not. Don’t worry. Be at peace. God is there with you every step of the way.
He knows all there is to know about you - internally and externally, your body’s working and your soul’s architecture. He knows your longings for love and every desire you have to be taken seriously. He knows you are worried about money - about being lonely - about being ill. God knows God cares; Fear not; Don’t worry; Be at peace. God is there right alongside you.
There may be tensions within your marriage - your home - your family - but know this event the very hairs of your head are all numbered. God knows. God cares. You say, ‘how do I know this?’ Well, come to the Table here with your empty hands, and ask him, who gave up his Son for you, to freely give you all you need to live a peace- filled, anxiety free life.
We must all come, as beggars - all of us must rely not on the evidence of our senses, but in faith take God at his word and hand over to him all that upsets us and makes us less the he wants us to be. This is why taking the bread and the wine is such a comfort, such a solace. As we handle these Holy Mysteries we know God is here, that he cares, and that, best of all, he wants to be united with us in our lives. We feed on him, the living Bread, and find ourselves strengthened by his presence. It is as if we are taking his hand and he is leading us through all the darkness and uncertainties to the one eternal fact: God’s love for us. And fear, like ice, melts before the overwhelming warmth of his commitment to us.
We are his and he is ours for ever.
God knows. God cares. Fear not. Don’t worry. Be at peace.