From David McNinch
I am a mathematician and have taught every level of high school Maths for nearly 15 years. And I like Maths. That doesn’t make me weird. Right? And although I’m not a big fan of statistics I’m a sucker for a lovely graph representing the data. So the charts we have seen over the last few months are beautiful but the figures they represent are not.
I remember thinking at the start of the graph sharing that I didn’t want anyone I knew being a Covid statistic. The numbers on the graph are appalling but they can be seen as just that: numbers. The old TV series The Prisoner, had the main character stating, “I am not a number.” But that is what these charts and graphs can do: make people into numbers.
That is not how God sees it. He knows that each number is a person who has been infected by the virus or suffering terribly from it or has lost their life. He knows that each number has loved ones attached to it who are anxious or grieving.
For the past few years I have been part of the team that take a group of S3 pupils to the World War 1 battlefields in Belgium and France. We take them to the Somme and tell them that on the first day of the Battle of the Somme over 19,000 British soldiers were killed and nearly 30,000 more were injured. The numbers are horrific but when we cross what was No Man’s Land we see a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and suddenly each of those 19,000 become a person: a son, a father, a husband. And most poignant of all are those graves where the soldier is unnamed. But the gravestone states, known unto God. And that’s the truth for all of us!
In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus was speaking to his disciples and told them: “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” I am picturing a heavenly screen with a line graph or bar chart showing the number of hairs on our heads! The point is that God knows all about you to the smallest detail and you are priceless to him. No matter who you are; what you have done; what you think; where you live; what you look like; and so on, you are so precious to him.
In the past week I have been saddened and sickened by the senseless death of George Floyd. It has brought to attention, again, the plight of black people around the world. George is known unto God and is precious in his eyes. He was a son, a father, a fiancé. I pray that George does not become just another statistic in the list of racist killings but that we all stand together to oppose this way of thinking. One sparrow doesn’t cost a lot but a flock of sparrows? Now that might just be worth people sitting up and taking notice.