God’s not-so-random acts of encouragement

My friend has experienced God’s very present help in trouble. But Ann has a problem. After seeing so many signs and wonders, she worries that people might not believe her testimony.

Last year proved the most difficult one of Ann’s life. A corporate calamity loomed overhead for months on end. Meanwhile, both her parents’ health declined rapidly and they died only weeks apart.

The story of Job came to mind for those of us helplessly observing our friend’s losses. But we saw God’s kindness to her as well. Noticeably, the worst events seemed to have happened at the best times or in the best way possible.

But more vivid assurances of God’s help came in the form of birds.  In Ann’s darkest hours a cardinal would arrive and perch before her. She couldn’t recall ever seeing cardinals up close. In fact, she called them redbirds at first, not knowing their real name. Each appearance brought comfort, and with every new occurrence, greater encouragement. Ann sensed that the Lord wanted her to know He was watching over her.

Ann sought God’s strength throughout her painful ordeal. But she wondered about God manifesting himself through cardinal visits—15 of them at last count.

Would God use birds to specifically encourage anyone? He did in Elijah’s case. Ravens delivered meat and bread to the prophet twice-a-day for awhile (1 Kings 17:6).

But birds aside, God’s Word promises his watchful care. Jeremiah wrote: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. . . . The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:22, 23, 25).

Paul also described a God of encouragement:  “who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

On the heels of Ann’s sorrows, her family’s pet had to be put to sleep. She awoke the next morning too sad to get up, until a chirping bird intervened. Ann jumped out of bed knowing what she would see when she opened the shutters.

After my friend called to share that last redbird story, I sat on my patio, very happy for her encouragement—and thinking I could use some for myself. Then, strangely, a bird flew down and stood on a nearby chair for a full half-minute. Even stranger, my bird-chasing dog remained still and quiet beside me, only watching. I loved having the bird come so close. And it was a cardinal.

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter works as journalist, writing news and feature stories, book reviews and more for many Christian publications. She lives in Heath with her husband Jim. 

Read more by Patti Richter:

Of Snakes & Pumpkins: even a perfect fall day is made better with prayer

A lesson in forgiveness – just in time for Thanksgiving

De-stressing at Christmas – in the closet

Down with Resolutions – except one

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