Broken Praise

On a recent trip to the museum, our family lingered at the entrance to watch the busy squirrels hustle a meal or two. (Funny how much money we spend to see the past when life waits so freely at the door.)

The kids, mobile phones in hand, vied for the best angle to photograph the sidewalk birds and squirrels (or “wildlife” as we city dwellers might say), when a smallish bird inched his way into our circle and into my heart.

I loved him as soon as ever I saw him. I loved his brave claim on our attention and the matter-of-fact way he faced the other birds. Most of all I loved him for his brokenness—most probably because I could identify with him in that. I wondered about his story; what had led him to that day and to us.

As I stood wondering at the tenacity of this sweet little bird, he hopped up on the fencepost and turned aside, presenting my camera with his splendid profile and my heart with sweet reminder of the grace of the One who cares for broken birds.

From the days of Aeschylus, the sorrow of birds has been the stuff of poets:

“Frenzied in soul you are, by some god possessed, and you wail in wild strains your own fate, like that brown bird that never ceases making lament (ah me!), and in the misery of her heart moans… throughout all her days abounding in sorrow, the nightingale.”[1]

I know, I know… I’m romanticizing (again). But God tells us to, “ask the birds and they will tell you…” (Job 12:12:7-10.) The fact is that this little bird told a braver, more eloquent tale than the rest, and I have not a doubt his song was made the sweeter for his brokenness. His was a tribute to the One in whose “hands is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind,” the one-legged testament to the grace of the God who cares when the sparrows fall.

But the bird before us not only gave praise, he inspired it as well—an awestruck hallelujah to the One whose praise is heard in the lilting songs of broken birds. Spurgeon once said, “There are some promises which only sing to us in trouble,”[2] and I’m grateful it’s true.

It’s a promise I carry close to my heart—a promise He knew I’d need today.


[1] Aeschylus, Aeschylus, With an English Translation by Herbert Weir Smyth, Ph. D. in Two Volumes. 2.Agamemnon, ed. Herbert Weir Smyth (Medford, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926).

[2] C. H. Spurgeon and Terence Peter Crosby, 365 Days With Spurgeon (Volume 2) (Leominster, UK: Day One Publications, 2002), 100.

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3 thoughts on “Broken Praise

  1. My, how beautiful…all of it, your heart spewing forth God’s grace, care, love, goodness, whispers, the bird, its courage trumping its brokenness, its message, its purpose, breathing, singing and directed to meet and to encourage you and me! And that photo, what a treasure. What a gift! Thank you, my fried and sister in Christ!

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  3. The little bird’s “brokenness” left it changed. A testament to both itself and others of where it was in the past and where it is now and how God heals.

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