His Eye is On the Sparrow
The hymn chorus goes
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.
For many people this hymn has brought comfort and joy. I believe the words of this hymn because they are based on Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
I think some people hear this song, and believe it matches the false gospel of Joel Osteen, who says, “It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life.” (From “Your Best Life Now”)
But as I heard this song recently, a question occurred to me: What is the sparrow doing that God is watching? If you look back at the verse, the sparrow is falling to the ground. Not flying. Falling. In other words, the sparrow has died. So while this verse is definitely saying that God is aware of everything that is happening in our lives, it is primarily stating that God is aware of our problems. But to those like Osteen who think that God only wants us to be happy and prosperous: God never promises that.
The writer of “His Eye is On the Sparrow” Civilla Martin wrote the hymn based on an encounter that she had with a handicapped couple. The wife had been bedridden for over twenty years, and the husband was wheelchair-bound. Mrs. Martin’s husband asked the couple how they could be so joyful about their lives, with all their problems. The man replied, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Mrs. Martin made this quote the centerpiece of the song.
So next time you hear “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” just remember: God loves you and He is watching over you all the time. That means He’s watching over you during good times and bad. When you are at your lowest, do not give into the temptation that God doesn’t see, that God doesn’t know your sorrow. He knows the problems of birds, and He knows YOUR problems. When do we cling to our faith in God: when we’re in good times or in bad? God loves us, and to those of us who have been called to faith in Christ, God is working events for the best possible outcome (Romans 8:28).