I saw him first in the early spring, the days still cool and breezy, the sun only barely warming the greening grass. I am not sure exactly how he reached the feeder next to my window, but later I saw him hopping down one limb at a time to the ground. His right wing was broken, dragging on whatever surface he stood; he was unable to lift it at all. Yet by hopping upward one limb at a time, I surmised, he had managed to get to a plentiful food supply and ate as much as he needed.
All spring he came, usually after the other birds had eaten their fill and left. I made sure he had plenty and he seemed to appreciate it, eying me from the safety beyond the window where I sat as he pecked the seed. Finally his wing began to mend. After a couple of weeks he was able to pull it up a bit. Gradually he pulled it closer and closer to his body, and suddenly one afternoon he gave it a try and flew to the feeders out in the yard, the ones on straight poles that he couldn’t reach before. His flight was wobbly, swooping down toward the grass in a dive I thought would crash-land, but then he managed to flap a bit and rise to land on the red plastic perch.
His wing and his maneuvers have both improved. I can still tell which one he is, though, because that wing healed crookedly and still bows out from his body as if he has his hand in his pocket, elbow stuck out, but his flying is straight and sure now. He survived what might have brought death to any other bird probably because of the free and easy meal he could still manage to reach while he healed.
Isn’t that why God put us here together? When one of us has a broken wing, the rest of us do what we can to help. It may be physical—taking meals to the ill or injured or those recovering from surgeries. But far more often it is a spiritual break, a soul in jeopardy from the pitfalls of life that have left him maimed and unable to care for himself.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2.
In this way we follow the example of our Lord: a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench…Matt 12:20. Just as he healed so many broken souls, he expects us to do the same.
Sometimes it is difficult to deal with these broken souls. It takes time, it takes effort, sometimes it even takes heartache and tears. It means we might miss a planned outing, a meal, or maybe some sleep. Taking care of those in pain can take up your life—but then, isn’t service supposed to be our life when we give it all to the Lord? Service by definition is never convenient.
Look around for those broken wings. God expects you to be His agent in taking care of His ailing children. Feed them, care for them, listen, advise, and if necessary, correct. Above all, be patient—healing takes time. If you aren’t willing to do that, then maybe the broken wing is yours.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." Isaiah 35:3-4