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Minister's message: Birds teach us lessons in perseverance

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” — Romans 5:2b-5

I have a growing dislike for finches. Over the last five years or more, these persistent birds have chosen to nest on the porches of my home. In Hampton, they would nest in my hanging baskets. Here in Gainesville, they nest in the corners of the porch, atop the columns.

Some work has been done to deter these creatures; plastic frames with protruding prongs have been secured in the tops of the columns to discourage birds from nesting. However, the finches are not so easily discouraged. They press on and build their nests anyhow, actually seeming to appreciate the nice plastic fence for their home.

I don’t mind allowing one nest to be built; in fact, it’s kind of fun to watch the process and later hear the chirps of little birds. But the mess they make is not exactly worth the price of admission. So when the second round of nesting comes, I try to encourage the birds to go elsewhere.

When the first brood had up and left the nest, I climbed on my stool, took it down and cleaned up the area. Good riddance. Upon discovering the second nest being built a month or so later, I would take out my stool again and pull out the days efforts by these persistent builders. Smugly I thought that was the end of that.

Some of you are smiling because you know this is not true. Indeed, the following day the beginnings of another nest could be seen atop the column. Not a problem; up I go again and pull it down, tossing the remains in the yard. The following day, had the finches moved on? No. They are at it again.

“Fine. I can do this all week long,” I thought. Days three, four and five were the same. I just could not discourage these little birds and was starting to feel a little bad about destroying their hard work. They were going to put their nest there, by George, and there appeared to be nothing I could do about it.

Now, I certainly didn’t go to the end of my limits to move these birds, but I conceded. I could have put something large in their nesting area or even closed in the space, but if I made it out right impossible to nest where they wanted, I felt certain I would have a nest in my hanging basket and then I’m having to water around baby birds.

I actually prefer them on the column to in my hanging baskets, and I was about to leave town, figuring they’d have an egg in the nest by the time I got home. Fine. You win – this time.

Perseverance. Those stinking birds had perseverance. How quickly do we give up on things? How quickly do we abandon our prayers, give up on forgiveness, decide tithing is just not attainable for us? Where is our perseverance?

We could take a page or two out of the Finch Guide Book of Life and press on more, choosing to not give up.

To be relentless. Paul tells us in Paul tells us in Romans 5:2-5 that we should, once again, rejoice in our sufferings because of the work God is doing in and through us as we struggle and persevere. One of our big rewards for persevering is hope. As we press on, hope comes to us. Hope in the realization of God’s great love for us, His constant presence with us, His sustaining power. Hope in knowing God is working in and through us, even when we cannot see the results just yet.

Take in this thought: You may never see the results of what you are praying for or what you are working through. But keep at it. Don’t give up. Press on.

Even when some dummy pulls your nest down and you have to start all over again, do it. Even though it will take more time. Even though it is hard. Even though it seems like success is evasive – do it again!

Press on, dear one. Hang in there. Trust and know that God is with you. Persevere, for your hope is in our Almighty God.

God, you do not disappoint. When we press on through our trials, you reward us by developing our character and increasing our hope. Sustain us, merciful Father. Give us courageous spirits; give us such a mind that cannot be deterred. Help us to prevail, for the glory of your name and the advancement of your kingdom. Amen.

The Rev. Michelle Strall is pastor of Antioch United Methodist Church in Gainesville. She can be reached at