“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habukkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)
When I think about birds, two things immediately come to mind: flying and singing. Indeed most people would say a bird unable to either fly or sing is, well, less of a bird, especially so if it was no longer capable of flying. I can’t help but wonder out loud, though, “Is it possible God sees such a bird as ‘more than’ when all we see is ‘less than?'”
What would your answer be if I were to ask you to tell me two vital things about yourself that are integral to who you are, like we just mentioned about birds regarding flying and singing? Do you have those attributes firmly in mind? Good. Imagine what it would be like if something happened and you lost one of the two traits for an undetermined length of time. In other words, you don’t know whether the loss is temporary or permanent. What might your attitude be? Your outlook? What emotions might you experience? Would you shake your fist at God? Or would you praise Him despite your circumstances?
“It’s easy to love and trust God when life is good, but when things fall apart is when you find out what we truly believe.” Cory Asbury, Reckless Love (the devotional)
Let me tell you a remarkable story about a lady and a bird as told to me by my wife last week. One of her Facebook friends originally shared the story as I understand it. It’s a story that points the way forward towards higher ground for all who find themselves struggling to keep their heads and their hopes up in deep, stormy waters. I hope you will be as touched by it as I continue to be.
“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” A. W. Tozer
Before I begin this story, let me first make mention of God’s photo provision before I ever heard this story. A few days earlier, we had a bird fly into one of our windows at the back of our house. Stunned from the impact, it fell on the outdoor couch between the seat back and the cushions. This situation was unusual because it was a cardinal rather than the typical dove we usually see. Intrigued by this uncommon occurrence, I took the photo. Little did I know at that time that I’d need an image of a cardinal sitting in an unusual setting for a story I’d be inspired to share a few days later. And yes, for all you fellow bird lovers out there, I’m happy to report that the bird fully recovered and was gone just a few minutes later after I took the picture.
As the story goes, it seems this lady was driving down the street at the beginning of a hectic day filled with appointments when she happened upon a cardinal sitting in the middle of the road. The bird didn’t attempt to fly off as she drove closer, so she pulled off to the side and parked her car for a closer look at this unexpected sight. Realizing something must be wrong for the bird to act like that, she gently scooped it up and placed it in a cardboard box she happened to have in her car. Instead of going ahead with her busy schedule, she immediately drove to an animal shelter, hoping someone could help the bird out. The person examining the bird explained to her that, most likely, the bird had a broken clavicle (collarbone) and had only a 50-50 chance of recovery from this severe and excruciating injury. If she wanted to help, the best thing for her to do would be to take the bird home, nurse it as best she could, and then wait and see what happens, realizing the bird may not ever fly again or possibly die. Not surprisingly, the lady decided to take the bird home with her.
In an unexpected twist on the drive home, the lady said she and the bird shared a “moment” of sorts as they made eye contact. And then, to the lady’s delight and amazement, the cardinal broke out into a song and continued to sing most of the rest of the way home. Happily, the bird healed over the next several weeks, and as instructed, the lady took it back to where she found it and released it back into its home territory.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Vivian Greene
You know, friend, I’ve thought about this story a lot since first hearing it. Do you want to know what tugs at my heartstrings about it? It’s the bird still singing despite the pain, despite being unable to fly, and despite finding itself in strange and threatening surroundings. I have to ask, “Would I still sing under such difficult and painful circumstances where I’ve lost something of great value, something I consider to be part of who I am? Do I have the faith and trust in God to sing His praises during challenging times that shake me to my very core?”
“Faith isn’t fact until it’s tested.” Steve Wiggins, Groundworks Ministry
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie ten Boom
The story of an underdog facing seemingly insurmountable odds stirs my heart like none other. This tale is that kind of story, and it brings to mind that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” God has called us to make lemonade with Him no matter our circumstances. Why? For His glory. Do you know Him to be a good, good Father? Do you believe He is sovereign? Your willingness to sing His praises even while surrounded by lemons depends upon Who you believe God to be and the degree of intimacy you have with Him.
“There is a correlation between our sense of security and the depth of our understanding of God’s love.” David Jeremiah
Ah, yes, if we but truly grasped the unsurpassed depth of God’s love for us, we would never be shaken, and our days would overflow with waterfalls of heartfelt singing.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “’Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’” Mark 9:24 (NKJV)
I’ve taken the liberty of changing a few words from an iconic song (Singin’ in the Rain) to help illustrate this story’s takeaways. The original word is noted in parentheses. And, yes, of course, this song is the source of inspiration for this post’s title.
“I’m singin’ in the pain (rain)
Just singin’ in the pain (rain)
What a glorious feeling
I’m happy again
I’m laughin’ at clouds
So dark up above
The Son’s (sun’s) in my heart
And I’m ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the pain (rain)
I’ve a smile on my face
I’ll walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Singin’ in the pain (rain)”
Writer/s: Arthur Freed, Nacio Herb Brown
Publisher: BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
When the painful times come into our lives, and Jesus assures us they will, may we find the courage, trust, and faith to sing His praises despite the heartaches. He has, after all, overcome the world. Do we believe God to be sovereign? Let all who know this to be true be of good cheer.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)
“But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.” Psalm 59:16 (NKJV)
“The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.” Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible
I’m blessed and inspired, as I hope you are as well, by this moving and encouraging story about the cardinal singing amid a life-threatening storm. Yes, these are the type of stories that thrill and lift my heart above the stormy waters that threaten to capsize and sink me. May I live an authentic and vibrant “more than” life that points others to God even during dark and treacherous times. Because of You, Jesus, I can sing it is well with my soul. Let us sing His praises, my friend.
“Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:22-25 (NKJV) (emphasis mine)
Soul’s Anthem (It Is Well) by Alisha Mino and John Rose