Tears in a Bottle and Pennies for Sparrows
Each week, when I write out payroll, I try to include a Bible verse or quote that I find particularly encouraging or meaningful. Some weeks it's harder than others, and I have to go searching for one. Some weeks it's easier, and the verse that came in one of my daily emails suits just fine. Today was a combination of the two: the verse I used came from one of my daily emails, but it was sent to me almost two weeks ago! In daily-email-terms, that's forever ago!
As I was writing it out on index cards to give to the staff, I got to thinking that it would be nice if our clients could reconcile and understand the concept these two verses are talking about. If only they understood...then we might be out of a job!
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)
Because we know our own hearts and we base our worth on what others think of us, we tend to believe the lie that Satan spreads that we are worthless. But this passage is trying to explain to us just how precious and worthy we are. I would like for us to take a few minutes to explore these two verses....
During Jesus' day, one day's wage could be paid in a silver Denarius. Today, that would be worth approximately $50-$60. A "penny" was worth 1/16 the amount of a Denarius; it was called the As, and it was made of copper.* One As was worth around $3.50 in today's currency. Five sparrows for $3.50... Sparrows were poor people's food solely because one could buy so many for so little. A last resort of sorts. Only remembered if there was no money for any other kind of food...
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks briefly about birds and the way the Father takes care of them: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
I'll be honest: about the only time I think of birds is when they're a nuisance or when their songs are so pretty. They're a part of everyday life, and there are so many parts of everyday life that I don't think about very often. But in these two passages, Luke and Matthew, God is telling us that He doesn't forget them, that He thinks on them often - enough to make sure they have food even during the winter! How much more will He care for the image-bearers?!
The average number of hairs on a head is around 100,000.** Some have more; some have less. Curly headed folks tend to have less hair to make room for the curls but lose more hairs per day than is typical. Folks with straight hair typically have more hair and lose about 100 hairs a day. Why is this important, though?
Have you ever counted the number of hairs on your head?! It would be a long, tedious process, full of tick marks and circled numbers and long addition threads. You might even have to start over from time to time because you lost your place. Because as soon as you start counting something, of course, someone is going to start talking to you or require you to do something!
No, we typically don't count our hair - we just wash it and take care of it. As long as it's keeping our head warm and looks decent, we don't really spend too much thought on it. Kind of like the birds and sparrows...
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll -
are they not in your record?
God our Father takes the time to record our tears and keep track of their causes. He cares enough to catch them in a bottle and store them. He cares enough to know the exact number of hairs on each of our heads.
Do not be afraid; you are worth much more than sparrows. No worry or fear of yours is too small because the hairs on your head have all been numbered. God truly does care for each of us in our most unworthiness. He desires to be included in the small things that tend to be overlooked and forgotten. He really does care - and that shows our worth.
God, time and time again, refers to Himself as a Father to the fatherless and Protector of the widows. In Biblical times - and even at times today - these were the people groups that were often overlooked and forgotten. They could not fend for themselves in proper ways and were often forced into illegal acts to survive. But these very "unwanted" people are the ones God chooses to command us to protect and love.
Are they worthy? In and of themselves, no, as is the case with all of us. But because they are image-bearers, created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, they are worthy. It is only because He first loved us that any of us can be counted as worthy or valuable.
He is a perfect Prince that will never force Himself on anyone but will love us completely and perfectly. He will offer help and guidance when we've lost our way. He will pick us up when we fall and have no other way up. He will mend our broken and bruised hearts and make us whole again. He will, through His sacrifice, make us holy, righteous, and redeemed. He will make us worthy and valuable.
If only our clients could grasp this, we might be out of a job...
*Littleton Coin Company: "Guide to Ancient Roman Coinage"; https://www.littletoncoin.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Display%7C10001%7C10001%7C-1%7C%7CLearnNav%7CGuide-to-Ancient-Roman-Coinage.html
**Bauman Medical: "How many hairs are there on the human head?"; https://baumanmedical.com/qa/many-hairs-human-head/