Do You Feel Cared For in the Universe?

"Sparrow Fall" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Sparrow Fall” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Allow me to ramble for a minute.

Jesus told a story about the Father seeing the sparrow fall to the ground, and that we should therefore be comforted that the Father cares for us… because we are more important than sparrows.

What I found curious is that the sparrow is not rescued or helped in any way. The sparrow falls. The sparrow hits the ground. The sparrow dies. I did appreciate that it more accurately represented real life… that bad things really do happen and that there ins’t any intervention. But… Jesus says the Father saw it. We are to receive comfort from that. The message is, apparently, that even though we may suffer, we aren’t alone. Someone cares.

Some people don’t find that very comforting.

I’ve been reading some interesting ideas about how people perceive the universe. Whether they believe in a God or not. Some people feel like the world is a very dangerous place and conspires against them. Constantly. Every little bad thing that happens is a confirmation of this. Every good thing that happens is a freak accident and held in suspicion. Then there are others who feel like the world is a fairly safe place and conspires in their favor. Every good thing that happens is a confirmation of this. Every bad thing that happens is a freak accident.

On the one hand, the universe is good with chaos trying to disrupt it. On the other, the universe is chaos with good trying to correct it.

Then, I suppose, there are those who see the world as neutral and arbitrary and that we are subjects of its ebbs and flows.

Then, I also suppose, there are those who say there is no universe, there is no I, and there is no suffering.

And… it doesn’t matter where the person is in the world or how severe their struggles. I saw this for myself when I visited Haiti right after the earthquake in 2010.

Some people can grow up in complete luxury but live in constant fear that life is going to deal them a fatal blow. Then others can grow up in complete impoverishment and feel like they’re going to win the lottery any day.

The other day I was reading about PTSD, and how some people may be more prone to it than others because of their childhood. Those who experienced trauma in their childhood years may have more difficulty recovering from traumas later. Did these people grow up feeling the world isn’t safe? Did their trauma convince them of this?

But then, I have a fascinating book by a Jungian Buddhist psychologist, Polly Young-Eisendrath, The Gifts of Suffering: Finding Insight, Compassion, and Renewal, where she tells story after story of people who have experienced terrible struggles, yet have what she calls “resilience” and recover to find renewed creativity and compassion in the world.

So… lots to think about. Thanks for listening to my ramble.

These are the kinds of things we talk about around the virtual table of The Lasting Supper. Join us!


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4 Responses

  1. A couple of years ago when I was going through an incredibly difficult time and dealing with terrible anxiety, God kind of showed me something which helped me see the world differently. I was complaining about fear and insecurity and I felt like God said, “right here in this moment, you have what you need. You are sheltered. You are not far removed from a meal or a drink. You can breathe. Neither you or your children are in mortal danger right this second. You have a world of beautiful things to look at. You’re OK.”

    At first I was a little miffed that God’s standards are so much lower than my own. But after that, when I started feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, I would stop and ground myself in the fact that right in that moment, absolutely nothing was wrong. I was safe, sustained and comfortable. After a while of doing this, it started to dawn on me that the overwhelming majority of even the most difficult life is spent in just that state – safe, sustained and reasonably comfortable. The difficulties may be acute, but they come and go. The problem is that we define our life by those difficulties, which quantitatively speaking, often make up a tiny fraction of our lives. And there are good reasons for that – Lord knows I am well acquainted with the lasting harm terrible moments leave behind.

    But it is also true that the sparrow spent thousands more moments happily flying, eating, resting, observing, socializing and doing whatever it is that sparrows do than it did falling. It is easy to define the sparrow’s relationship with God by the moment it fell and was not caught rather than by the far more numerous, but no less real, moments in which it was happily being what it was created to be.

  2. Caryn LeMur says:

    David: I appreciate your comments about the reality of the sparrow falling and dying, without intervention.

    Life is often that way.

    And yes, I do take comfort that God is aware… but I realize I am ok with a non-intervening God… and others need, really need, that intervention.

    And for them, the ‘God that sees’ is not enough.

  3. Kathy says:

    I cannot get this out of my head; I am haunted by it. Especially give our personal circumstances over the past year or so.

  4. You might need to talk about it to help you process it.