Greek myth holds that the peacock was punished for its vanity by a goddess who cursed it with a horrible voice, so that when it bragged of its beauty, only the awful noise would come out. Peacocks capture my attention because their hypnotizing beauty contrasts with their screeching voices and their awkward movements. Flightless birds (though the peacock isn't entirely flightless) are walking contradictions. A bird has always symbolized flight, freedom, grace - but a flightless bird, like the kiwi, the ostrich, and especially the extinct dodo, represent anything but.
Matthew turns our attention to a very different bird, also lacking flight: the sparrow. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31). What amazes me about this is that the Maker of the universe cares whether a little bird, smaller than a pine cone, should fall out of a tree. There is nothing special about a sparrow to make one stand out to us, unlike the peacock. But Matthew speaks volumes about God's love for us by drawing this contrast between sparrows and humanity. If God cares about a tiny bird, how much more does He care about us? How much more does He value us?
Whenever I feel that I have been dealt an unfair hand by life because of the seemingly random things that go may wrong, this verse reminds me that nothing comes to my doorstep without first filtering through God's hands. If He cares that the bird falls out of its nest, surely He cares when I fall down. Birds have long been a useful symbols for writers, (and a thing of horror for Hitchcock, but that's another post). Sometimes I feel like the peacock, and sometimes I feel like the sparrow. Sometimes I grow very confident in my ability to provide for myself and to run my own life, but then I open my mouth and remember how foolish I sound. Sometimes I feel like the tumbled-down sparrow, helpless to lift myself up. In either case, I forget who I am in Christ. I forget that I am a child of God, with the privilege of calling Him Father.
|Photo: Benson Kua|