In the Meantime
by Courtney Westfall
You may recall my love for hummingbirds from a previous post here at The918.org.
This picture was handed down to me from my grandmother, and now hangs in my bedroom. Hummingbirds and I go way back. My family has enjoyed our tiny visitors all summer, and my kids have learned to spot all the different little birds who visit the feeder throughout the day.
The other night, my mom and I were going to take a walk (I should mention, how great it is to live across the street from some of your favorite people in the world!). When I started to cross the street, I noticed my dad standing at their hummingbird feeder. As I got closer, I discovered he was actually holding a hummingbird up to the feeder. My parents had come home from dinner and found the poor little thing hanging by its neck from where the plastic flowers connect to the feeder. My dad was holding the bird up to the feeder, attempting to let it eat and hopefully regain its strength.
Seeing this, my heart sank to my stomach. I had once heard that hummingbirds are perpetually only hours away from starvation because their metabolism is so high. I thought, if he could rest and eat then he would be okay. Surely this bird could be saved with some love and care. He had to be okay.
My dad let me take over and I prayed and prayed for the little creature. God cares for the sparrows, right? So he had to save this beautiful bird.
I was afraid ants would attack if we just laid him on the ground, so I made a circle of baby powder as a protective barrier while he was in the makeshift infirmary. I knelt in the dirt and grass, whispering encouragement to my patient until darkness crept up on the two of us. I left their house with a lump in my throat but still clinging to hope.
Later that night I got a text from my dad, “I’m sorry, the hummingbird didn’t make it.”
‘Well, that’s just not fair’ was my silent response.
I mourned for the beautiful bird that would never zoom up to the feeder again. Why didn’t God answer my prayer? Why didn’t he honor our efforts to save him? Why didn’t God show up?
These same questions have been asked for centuries; and often, for much more heart wrenching situations than a tiny bird. We all have encountered stories that don’t make sense. Stories of horror and injustice that make our stomachs turn and our hearts ache. Stories and experiences that demand an explanation. Moments like these have been the most challenging aspect of my faith in Jesus Christ. When verses in the Bible assure things like; “For he will command his angels concerning you…so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12), then why do we continually strike our feet against stones?! It doesn’t make sense. Where is the disconnect? Can we trust God who promises these things, when our experiences seem to tell us something different?
I’ve heard it said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” And this is where we find ourselves; in the delicate in-between. In the meantime.
When I was attending Asbury Theological Seminary, a dear professor helped me realize that we live our lives in the “already and not yet.” Jesus conquered sin and death through his own death and resurrection. The battle has been won. Yet, we still live on earth where there is death and destruction. Things will continue to be this way until Jesus “wipes every tear from every eye” (Revelation 21:4).
Even still, I felt like God owed me an explanation for why my little bird died, and for why some of the most atrocious things imaginable are “allowed to happen.” God has gently guided me to discover that the answer, although hard to wrap my brain around, is quite simple. So as I settle into the meantime, I choose to believe that God loves us so much that he chose to wrap himself in flesh and bone and walk this earth to prove his love for us. And I believe that the same God was kneeling with me, holding the sweet little hummingbird during its last minutes on earth.
We live our lives in the meantime but we certainly do not live them alone. The God of comfort and peace and healing has gifted us with his Spirit to comfort us, to bring peace and heal our hearts.
Courtney Westfall likes playing dress-up, going on adventures with her kids, and making cookies.
I loved watching my husband and then my daughter give loving care to this little hummer’s last minutes on earth. Compassion is a beautiful thing! Well written, Court!