“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:28-31 NIV)
Comforting words, those. If God is aware of sparrows falling from the sky, how much more does he know of our travails! Yet missed in this talk of God’s omniscience is a troubling fact: sparrows do fall from heaven, and God does nothing to stop it. Many sparrows have fallen in his sight, and not just sparrows. People fall too. It must grieve a loving God’s heart to see the sufferings of the ages. Pestilence and storms. Warfare and tyranny. The suffering of martyrs. Earthquakes and terror. It has all been in God’s plain view, and just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, one must wonder if the Father’s heart is also grieved over the helpless falling of many sparrows.
I believe he does grieve, and I believe he can and does weep. “Why will you die, O house of Israel?” God asks more than once. (Ezekiel 18:31, 33:11 NIV) And yet the sparrows continue to fall. Because God’s purposes are beyond our poor power to understand, asking why can become an exercise in frustration.
The “why” is important, but something else is more so. Perhaps the better question when sparrows fall is not why, but what. What am I going to do about it? If a sparrow falls from the sky, do I curse the law of gravity? Do I resign myself to the inevitable evils of the world? Or do I nurse it back to health?
When the storms of the world strike our brothers, do we curse God? Do we languish in the misery of others? Or do we rush to their aid and help carry them? Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20), and as such we need to be in the business of reconciliation. The “what” is to be a tool in God’s hands, to offer the comfort, the support, the cold cup of water, the shelter over one’s head, or a hot meal to the fallen.
In such times, the fallen sparrows need Christ. As his ambassadors we represent the God of the universe, and it is through us that God lights the world and reveals his love. If we want to see God’s hand, perhaps it is at the end of our own arms.