400 Billion Birds


At the heart of all worry and anxiety in our lives are two lies that we are prone to believe: either God doesn’t care about me, or he does care but is powerless to do anything about it. If I am believing one or both of these lies, then I will definitely worry about the circumstances of my life.

But Jesus refutes these lies in Luke 12.22-34 by using two examples to show us that God does indeed care, and he is absolutely powerful to help his people (see also Matthew 6.25-34). These examples are God’s care for and ability to provide for birds and flowers and grass. Jesus’ argument is that, if God cares for birds and flowers, then he certainly cares even more for the crown jewel of his creation - human beings - who have been made imago dei (in the image of God).

Ultimately, Jesus says that this boils down to a faith issue. If we are overcome by worry in our lives, it is because we are believing these lies more than we are believing the promises of God to care and provide for his special creation. In fact, Jesus says that if we are overcome by worry over the details of our lives, we are people of “little faith” (Luke 12.28).

Why is this a faith issue? Think about it like this: have you ever had a pet? I’ve had several in my life time. As of this writing, in fact, there are three animals in our house living as pets. Caring for them can be draining, especially as it regards our cat, Martha. She’s getting older and has some special health concerns. Caring for her in her old age is becoming more and more difficult as time goes by. My kids also have pet rats. They’re much easier to care for, but they still need their cage cleaned on a regular basis, and need to be fed and watered - all things that seem to be difficult for my kids to remember to do! It can be challenging to care for and maintain pet animals.

Now compare the care of our pets to God’s care for his creation. Jesus says that God cares for the birds - all of ‘em. He gives them food and provides for them. How many birds is that, exactly? A quick internet search reveals that science’s best guesstimate as to the total number of birds on the planet at any given time is about four hundred billion (400,000,000,000). That’s about 53 birds for every human being alive on the planet. And God cares for each one of those birds. He provides food for them and watches over every single one. Not one bird falls from the sky without God’s notice. And God says that we are far more valuable to him than many birds (Matthew 10.29-30). In this sense, the notion that God can care for 400 billion birds, but not me, is almost insulting!

Or consider the flowers. Jesus also says that God cares for and clothes the flowers of the earth (Luke 12.27-29). It’s hard to nail down firm estimates of the number of flowers on earth, but most scientists agree there are about 250,000 different species of flowers on the planet. That’s not 250,000 flowers, but species of flowers, of which there are probably millions of each species. And God cares for every. Single. Flower. And you really think that he won’t care for you, O you of little faith?

Worry is a faith issue. We are prone to believe the lies that God doesn’t care or that he is powerless. But Jesus refutes those lies with evidence of God’s ultimate sovereignty and providence. There is no one who escapes his notice; there is no situation over which he is not powerful.

But knowing and believing these truths won’t immediately remove all worry from our lives. We will still struggle with worry, and we will still be tempted to obsess over the small details of life. The difference is that when we are believing the truth of God, we have the weapons we need to be able to battle worry. We battle worry (unbelief in the promises of God) by preaching the truth of God to ourselves. When we are prone to worry, we remind ourselves of God’s promises: that he is powerful and that he cares for us (1 Peter 5.7).

If you struggle with worry, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure of a Christian, but it does mean that you need to learn to battle your worry using the truth of God’s promises. Also, simply believing the promises of God doesn’t mean that all of your worries and fears will simply magically disappear - they won’t. But if you’re believing the truth of God’s promises, you’ll have the tools and weapons you need to fight back against worry.

The next time you are prone to worry about the details of your life, and the next time you are tempted to believe the lie that God doesn’t care about you, or that he is powerless to do anything about your situation, just remember those 400 billion birds that God has his eye on, and remember that he’s watching over you, too.