When I was a little girl in Sunday School we often sang "God Sees The Little Sparrow Fall". The song went like this: (can't find the name of the original composer or lyricist and the lyrics can vary)
God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets his tender view.
If God so loves the little birds I know he loves me too.
He paints the lilies of the field, perfumes each lily bell.
If God so loves the little flowers I know he loves me well.
God sees the little birds and flowers and all things large and small.
He'll not forget his little ones, I know he loves us all.
There was never any discussion about the meaning of the song to us as children. Probably the Sunday school teachers and choir leaders thought the meaning of the song, proclaiming God's love for his creation, was rather obvious.
However at the age of 5, the thought of death terrified me into a sleep disorder that has plagued me all my life. Every time we sang the song my mind would stick onto the first verse. The idea that the little sparrow fell and likely never got up again and that this was a picture of God's love not only for the birds but for us, sent me into an emotional tail spin. How could God let the little sparrow fall if he loved it so much! And what was going to happen to the rest of us if even the birds weren't safe???? As a 5 year old I didn't have the emotional, intellectual or academic capacity to dwell rationally on thoughts of death and how God's love is manifest even then.
No, I didn't ask questions about it. When I was 5 years old I had all ready learned that my place in the world was one of attempting to remain invisible and not bother anyone with my childish thoughts. (Just to clarify, my Sunday school teachers were NOT the ones responsible for it and would gladly have done their best to answer any questions I would have dared to ask at the time.) I desperately wanted to ask but was too shy and tongue tied and terrified that the rest of the class would overhear me; so much so that nothing would come out of my mouth in SS class.
I think it could have been a great help to me if someone had explained to me that death is part of the process in living an earthly life, that God has a purpose for death in this realm and there is a reason it came about through the disobedience of the original humans, that their disobedience effected the rest of the planet and the lives of the humans yet to come; that rather than a reflection of a vengeful, petulant God who doesn't like to be disagreed with, it is a consequence of sin that prevents us from living forever on the earth in our present imperfect state; that God sent Jesus to show us the way to our Heavenly Father where after death he will change us into what we are meant to be, no longer hampered by the cares of our present life.
When I was 5 years old I was interested in how things worked in the earthly and spiritual realms. There are some great ways to explain the basics to a 5 year old so that songs like this one don't scare them half to death in the opening verse. I am not the only child who didn't have explanations of our SS songs and the implied deeper meanings behind some of them. It did make me very careful to be there for my own child to talk about the meaning behind various songs and stories in the Bible, to provide an environment where any and all questions could be safely asked and hopefully responded to in an age appropriate way. I didn't always succeed, but I tried.
As an adult the implied meaning behind that first 2 lines of the song is profound. There has to be death. Experiencing the death of our earthly existence is the gateway to a better life. Jesus came to show us that. Allowing the death of decaying bodies and sinful selves so we are not trapped in them forever is a sign, ultimately, of God's love and deliverance.
So what horrible sin has a sparrow committed to cause it to have to die? Probably none, but again, to be delivered from the need to watch for predators and risk starvation in harsh winters is a sign of its creator's love.
Think about it..........