No sooner does my head hit the pillow but sweet dreamland approaches. My wife says I sometimes fall asleep midsentence. Seems bedtime isn’t the best time for conversation then.
Subsequently I tend to wake quite early in the morning. When the kids were small they used to complain, especially on holiday, that Dad was up and singing while they wanted a lie in.
Well, it was about 7am this morning and outside the wind was blowing a gale. It was still quite dark and the rain was beating on the window pane. A good morning for an extra snuggle down under the covers. And then, as I lay with the first thoughts and prayers of the day, I heard something.
In the middle of the wind and rain a bird was singing.
Not just a monotone chirp but a fairly melodic warble!
It put me in mind of a poem we studied in English Literature years ago where the poet hears an old thrush singing on a bleak winter’s day and wonders what he’s so cheerful about.
‘So little cause for carolings of such ecstatic sound
was written on terrestrial things afar or nigh around,
that I could think there trembled through his happy goodnight air
some blessed Hope whereof he knew and I was unaware.’
(Thomas Hardy The Darkling Thrush)
I don’t know what sort of bird was in the garden this morning but he seemed pretty positive that, despite the miserable circumstances, dawn was on its way.
That got me thinking about Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament. Things in his day were better than they had been but still a long way from wonderful. His last few words include an inspired promise that ‘the sun of righteousness’ would come ‘with healing in its wings’.
It’s a prediction of the Messiah, the divinely appointed Deliverer Who would radically clean things up and bring a new dawn of hope to those who would receive it.
We’ve done a lot of damage to the environment but haven’t managed to stop the sun rising yet. It’s something faithful and unchanging, like the Creator Himself. Every morning, be it cloudy or clear, just past the horizon, the sun is there and it’s coming.
So is the Son of God, eager to complete the work He began with His cross and resurrection. Darkness in all its forms will not be forever. Day is coming.
As I write, we still have to get through March but maybe we’re beginning to see a start of the way out of pandemic and lockdown. There will be new circumstances and doubtless more challenges to face after this one.
But every morning the birds will sing and the sun will rise and one of these dawnings will bring Christ in glory to judge the living and the dead. Evil and its consequences will be ended and God will make ‘all things new’. Those who by grace through faith are His children will together enjoy resurrection and eternal life.
That is the real reason for hope and courage. Listen to the birds!