Last month a friend sent me a video. (Thank you so much, dear friend.) I listened, curious about the artist. The song was a familiar one. When the song was over, I closed the window and didn’t think about it anymore. But God wasn’t through.
That weekend, my daughter and I watched a movie in which the protagonist faced doubts after arguing with a colleague. As writers and readers, we know the enemy’s gibes must hold a grain of truth. Guess what? Every point the coworker threw made perfect sense. The darts penetrated, wounding the fragile seed of hope.
Later, standing at a graveside, the same coworker asked the protagonist to say a few words to the family. As the camera closed in, you could see the emotional turmoil on his face as he struggled with his doubts and fears. When he spoke, he recited:
“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; From care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
When Singing Turns to Sighing
Oh, how I commiserated with this character. I, too, cling to hope when everything around me screams the opposite. Hope and courage have been hard victories, for the enemy would have me—you to believe his lies.
“Haven’t you prayed long enough?”
“The answers haven’t come in the past, so why should they come now?”
“Why should things change?”
“Why praise Him?”
“Face it. He’s not interested in your health. Get over it.”
Knowing what this character had endured for the past two years and the battle now raging inside him, I knew he didn’t speak the words to the family alone. The truth within the memorized lines reinforced his own flagging hope. And like all good Christ-centered fiction, the truth of the moment didn’t stop there. The camera view shifted, and the focus became my life. I forgot about my present questions as I reviewed my past. Meditating on His work in my life soon became an act of worship. As I drew near to Him, the sighing for answers ceased. My heart filled with song once again.
The person who has the habit of hope also has the habit of remembering. Hope needs memories the way a writer needs notes. This is partly because hope depends so much on imagination. Our images of the future are sweepings from our remembrances of things past. If we expect to keep hope alive, we need to keep memory alive. Happy memories of good things we hoped for that were fulfilled, and grateful memories of bad things survived.Lewis Smedes, Keeping Hope Alive
Throughout the day, information gets stuffed in our spiritual wells, clogging our praises. Our songs turn to sighs. We must dig the well every day as we draw near, giving Him our heartaches and troubles. But let us not stop there as we often do, but praise Him until our cares fall away, and we are renewed.
How can we do this in a world gone crazy? By finding what helps us to remember His goodness. Along with reading the Bible, my triggers are writing, music/songs, and nature. If I don’t write, if I don’t listen to songs, or if I forget to rest outside, I miss that day’s blessing.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches (Psalm 63: 5-6 KJV).
When we meditate on God’s goodness in our pasts, we ignite hope for our futures. Find your place to remember and then draw near with a grateful heart.
He Watches Over You and Me
If there has ever been a time, we need hope in our lives, it is now.
Christ is my Hope, the Anchor of my soul. Steadfast and True. He will not drag, leaving me to wander atop the waves amid the storm. He will draw near and rescue me or ride out the storm with me. How do I know this? Because He’s been faithful to me in the past.
Today, if you’re struggling to remember God’s faithfulness, start with His Truth and deeds in your life. I cannot promise things will get better in the here and now. It doesn’t always work out that way. But I will promise you of God’s love and care for us until the day we stand with Him in eternity. Until that day… His eye is on the sparrow, and He watches you and me.
The Story Behind the Song
Civilla D. Martin wrote the song after speaking with the Doolittles of Elmira, New York. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for twenty years, and Mr. Doolittle used a wheelchair to get to and from work each day. Seeing their joy, Mr. Martin asked of the “bright hopefulness” in their lives. Mrs. Doolittle answered, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” The next day, Civilla D. Martin sent the poem to Charles Hutchinson Gabriel to write the music.
The third verse is hard to find on video, but it was the one I needed to hear. The moment I heard “when songs give place to sighing“ everything fell into place. Here’s the complete song. I’ve highlighted some of the words. Enjoy.
His Eye Is on the Sparrow
Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely and long for heav’n and home when Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free; for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender words I hear; and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubt and fear. Though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
His Eye Is on the Sparrow © Civilla D. Martin Public Domain
“I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” ~ Civilla D. Martin #hope @GailJohnson87Tweet