Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

One of the dangers of increased scientific knowledge is that we run the risk of equating life with a lifeless equation. Let me illustrate. The Yellow Warbler is the most widespread of all of the North American warblers, breeding from Alaska to the Florida Keys. But it is also the most frequently parasitized by cowbirds which lay their eggs in the nest of the warbler then depend upon the smaller bird to feed and raise their young. In some areas 40% or more of the Yellow Warbler nests have been so affected. Females may desert the nest after cowbird eggs are deposited if, before that happens, she has laid less than three of her own eggs. But if more than three eggs have been laid, she will frequently accept the foreign egg, incubate it, and raise the young as her own. It all sounds rather sterile, predetermined, and lacking of any emotion. If the warblers should have access to this information, it might be tempting to think they might give up even trying to raise a family of their own.

But anyone who has raised their own children knows while there is advantage of having sound counsel from those who have gone before them, there may be a great difference between that and the emotion-filled tugs at the heart when the child is their own.

And Jesus apparently understood this difference as well, for He experienced it in a firsthand way. Jairus was the father in question. His young daughter had just died, and although both Mark and Luke tell the same story, the way Matthew puts it gives a slightly different perspective. It’s Jairus who is speaking: “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” (Matthew 9:18 NIV) As an educated leader of the synagogue he knew the odds. He had read the actuarial tables and knew that dead people didn’t come back to life. He had studied the most current AMA releases and understood the finality of death. He wasn’t naïve. He knew, but he chose to believe the impossible. And we know how that story ends.

I’m grateful for research for it does much to expand our understanding. But I never want to become blind to the possibility offered by faith. A new generation of warblers and a guy named Jairus will back me on that.