“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” - Matthew 10:29-31 (MSG)
I have a confession to make: for a really long time, I had difficulty grasping this verse. On the surface, I thought it was nice to think that God cares about birds. However, I always found it hard to believe that God is concerned about little birds when there is war, poverty, cancer, natural disasters and so many other difficult struggles we humans face on a daily basis. So this verse had me stumped for a while, until recently.
Adoption of Herc
Early last year, my brother adopted a chinchilla. A 3-month-old, cuter-than-you-ever-thought-possible chinchilla named Hercules (or Herc, as I like to call him).
Herb's Eye Injury
Fast forward to about this time last year, and my brother and I noticed that something was wrong with Herc. On closer inspection, it looked like he had an eye injury. We thought we knew what we needed to do to take care of him, but after a few days, Herc wasn’t getting better. We took him to a small animal specialist who matter-of-factly told us that Herc was going to have to have his eye removed, right away, and that there was a chance that he wouldn’t survive the surgery.
Herc Has Surgery
Let me be clear: I knew Herc was just a chinchilla. It wasn’t like I had just heard that my mom had cancer. It was around Christmas, and I knew there were people who were homeless, who were dying from cancer, who couldn’t afford to feed their kids and a thousand other hopelessly dire circumstances. It wasn’t that big of a deal in the “grand scheme of things”. Yet, I was devastated that this little creature was going to have to go through surgery and might not survive. For the next three hours, my brother and I waited to hear that Herc had made it through the surgery. The wait was terrible. I was praying, without ceasing, the entire time. When the doctor finally called, I didn’t know if I wanted to hear what she had to say or not. When she told us that Herc had made it out of surgery just fine, and that we could take him home that night, I wanted to burst into tears; I was so happy!
God Cares About Everything
Here’s what I learned from this experience: God cares about everything. Everything! He cares about soldiers fighting for their lives as they fight for our freedom; He cares for people who are alone and contemplating suicide. He also cares when you need to pass an important test, or when you can’t find your keys when you’re about to be late for work. He also cares about me, about what I care about. In that moment, when I was both acutely aware of so many bad things that were going on in the world, and afraid to lose a tiny little chinchilla, He cared.
God’s compassion cannot be matched. He doesn’t tell us to “suck it up”; He doesn’t tell us our problems are too small, too insignificant, that he has enough other things to be concerned about or that we shouldn’t bother him. In every moment, he is with us, and he sincerely cares about what happens to us, regardless of whether the outcome is good or bad. Now, when I read this verse, I swap out “canary” with “chinchilla”, and it reminds me that God cares about the smallest parts of our lives more than we’ll ever know or understand.