God knows the number of hairs on your head we are told in the Gospel Reading from Matthew 10 today. That is a God who is paying very close attention. We are worth more than many sparrows so we have no need to be afraid. Some people find this notion hard to agree with. I mean really, how can God know the number of hairs on my head?
After surgery two years ago, I started to lose my hair. I noticed it first in the shower but could see strands littering my clothing and bedding. Stress, I remember thinking because my poor body had been so traumatized. I mentioned it to my family doctor who took a look at my curls from her desk and then ran her fingers through them, coming away with a handful of my hair. She laughed when I told her that a hair stylist who had cut my hair recently said that whoever cut it before had done an odd job. I sure must have kept God busy those weeks as my hair count changed almost hourly.
I have sometimes wondered if God is truly able to stay on top of Inbox duties. Did the Creator of the Universe really notice that I have lost 10 hairs that hour or was the Divine One more worried about how my body was recuperating after such an overhaul that it was causing my hair to fall out? We take Scripture so literally. In the First Reading, it says that the Lord is like a dread warrior or mighty champion by my side. For some reason, I believe this one more than the ability to count my hairs and report an inventory when called upon. And to whom exactly would God report that information? I do feel the presence of the Holy One often in my life. I am sure that at the same time God has better things to do than just hang out with me while temples are being bombed, tanker trunks are bursting into flame, LGBTQ folks are being harassed, black lives are being mowed down, sexual predators are walking away scot-free, famine is wrecking havoc in an African country, and so many other needier situations are unfolding.
When I started to suspect that Dad was not going to survive, I simply asked God to do the most merciful thing for him, not for me. That became my prayer–and I trusted it. One of my dear friends reminds me that I am much more than sparrows when she calls me Sparrow Suzanne. In Psalm 69, we sang tonight that God answers us with great love. Sometimes we miss that mercy which is being shown to us. In another one of the songs (a pumped-up version of this link) entitled Rest we are reminded that even when we walk through the valley of death, we have a memory of God’s faithfulness in our lives that we must trust. I believe in this, even when the present moment is painful.
Prayer is a mystery to me but I feel compelled to pray without understanding the outcome. When I do not know what to ask for or am desperate, I fall back onto my favourite prayers of You take care of the details or I trust You to do the most merciful thing in this situation. If nothing else prayer changes me. I surrender. My trust increases. I free fall into whatever comes. I stop playing God. I move from my rage into reality. I shift from despair to hope. I arrive at peace. This God of mine has a whole universe to care for and I am a mere speck in it. I am grateful for the crumbs I receive as the Saviour of the World is dealing with catastrophes greater than mine. I see God’s fingerprints all over my file and I know that I have been heard. That is enough for me.
Do you believe that God knows the number of hairs on your head?
How do you pray during challenging times?
Creator of the Universe, your inbox is filled to overflowing, with many urgent files spilling out. How do I rate even a second of your attention? Yet, still I believe you hear me and you love me. You will act in your great mercy and love. I will trust in you. Amen.