Posted by: pmarkrobb | February 17, 2016

sing as a bird in winter

Not long after the sun dawned on Monday, the day took on a very solemn tone.  As my wife greeted me with a good morning kiss, she shared some tragic news received via text shortly after 1:00am.  A young couple were out celebrating Valentine’s Day and were hit head-on by another car.  The husband died instantly and the wife was in critical condition.  The young man was the best friend of someone very near and dear to us.  He was to be his best man.

My heart sank, and silent prayers were offered.  The news came soon that the wife had fallen into the arms of Jesus.  This world’s great loss was heaven’s great gain.  I navigated the remainder of the day with an intensely heavy heart.  This was “wrong” on so many levels.  This is not how things are supposed to be.  Yet the Bible says this is exactly what we should expect.  Our world is not how God created or intended it to be.  Original sin carried a curse, and death in this life is assured (unless Christ comes back first).  It should war against our souls.  It should seem desperately wrong to the true follower of Jesus.  It grieves God, and God’s Spirit within us echoes that grief.

I stepped out the door of my house a little before 8:00am the next morning.  It took only a few steps to be overwhelmed with profoundly contrasting sensory experiences.  As my eyes measured my steps, I could clearly see snow on the ground.  Yet as my cheeks hit the temperate air, something seemed amiss.  As I took a deep breath through my nose, my senses were at full-on war.  I typically pause in such moments.  They are the kind where your eyes announce sour, but your palate experiences sweet.  Or when you expect a bite to be sweet and are shocked by savory.  Something doesn’t compute … and it didn’t that morning.  Every bit of my visual cues and calendar knowledge declared winter, but the cool-ish air and distinct scent shouted spring.  I love moments when two polar opposites or multiple warring senses create an unavoidable and uncomfortable tension.

And then I heard the birds.

I stood beside my car for a minute to watch, breathe and listen.  The sweet sound of the birds seemed to elevate above my other senses, and I found myself lost in their song.  As I buckled in and started off, I began connecting the experience back to the heaviness of my yesterday.  Although it was not of the same intensity or consequence, there was also something “wrong” on Tuesday morning — birds were singing and there was snow on the ground.  How is it that there were birds singing?!

In what seemed like an instant, I associated their song with the bewildering beauty of gratitude in the midst of suffering. The conditions were harsh, yet they went on singing.  It was the natural world declaring the absolute truths of “give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thess. 5:18) and “count it all joy” (James 1:2).  Thanks in the circumstances and joy in the trials of various kinds … not because of them.

I am more often a supporter of the bird who attempts to sing in the midst of their circumstances and trials.  I have not experienced deep loss as often as have others in my life.  It is desperately hard but infinitely easier to be the bird’s friend, than to be the bird.  Father, continue to make me worthy of that sacred opportunity and also make me able to sing when circumstances and trials of various kinds befall my life.  I pray this for those whose lives have been turned upside down by the tragedy of this young couple’s death.  And I also pray that we don’t miss this:

The singing makes people stop (as I did Tuesday morning) and listen.  The song is a powerful testimony of God’s strength and love in carrying us through the circumstances and trials that bring us to our knees.

Sing as a bird in winter.  Sing to the Creator, the Great Healer.




  1. Thank You.

  2. We don’t always, perhaps rarely, speak the truth to ourselves about all that is going on around us and within in us. Apart from the Truth we see life through blurred and darkened eyes. Thanks for sharing some “observation”. For taking time for observation. 🙂

    Sorry to hear of the deaths of these two young lives. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have……….

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