"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before the God?"
The Lord knows and cares about all of His creations. Including the three small land hermit crabs we bought for our oldest daughter's birthday when she was seven or eight years old. All three crabs could fit in the the palm of my hand together, as long as they weren't moving around, which they usually were. Our daughter named them Hermie, Kermit and Toby.
I was surprised by how much care the tiny little critters needed; I had expected them to be more like fish--feed everyday and clean the tank when you can no longer see them swimming (or in the crabs' case, crawling) around. We had to wash their water dish daily, make sure their little sponge stayed moist, clean their rocks, and bath them.
Bathing a hermit crab is nothing like bathing a toddler. A squirming, screaming toddler is easier. First we had to catch the little guys, and they could move fast when they chose to. They'd nip us with their little claws in protest when we picked them up, we'd submerge them briefly in the clean water, and they'd nip us again when we pulled them out.
The crabs had to be completely dry before we could put them back in their tank, so we found a box to spread an old towel in so they could crawl around for a few hours and dry off without constant supervision.
One night in December, in our rush to get to our ward Christmas party, we forgot to put the crabs back into their tank before we left. The six of us burst back into the house, the kids nearly bouncing from the walls on a candy cane-Christmas high, and found the tank empty. Their drying box was still sitting on the counter. Panicked, we checked the box and found only Toby curled up in his shell amidst the folds of the towel. I snatched him up and placed him in the tank.
The search for the other two crabs commenced. We checked the counter and the floor below it, wondering if our little crabs could have survived a fall from that high. No hermit crabs. The next closest place was our Christmas tree, surrounded by gifts. While the kids crept around on their hands and knees searching the house, my husband and I began pulling gifts from beneath the tree and placing them carefully behind us. When we finished, no one had seen any signs of the crabs.
We gave our daughter the talk. The sometimes-these-things-happen talk.
She countered us with, "Heavenly Father made them. He loves them, and He knows where they are."
So with a quick warning that our prayers are not always answered they way we want them to be, and that we could find the crabs dead somewhere, we proceeded to pray that the Lord would lead us to the crabs. After the prayer, we felt compelled to check under the couch and the end table. We pulled the table out a little so we could get to the couch. Nothing. Then we lifted up the end table, and found Hermie happily crawling around on the carpet.
Our daughter scooped him up in both hands, telling him how sorrow she was for forgetting to put him back in his tank as she carried him to the kitchen. She placed him in the tank with Toby, and turned to me with a triumphant smile. "Now for Kermit."
We looked for another half hour. The younger children were getting cranky, so to our daughter's dismay, we called off the search and rescue and sent the kids to get ready for bed.
"I'm sorry," I told my dejected little girl. "But at least two of them are safe." She merely nodded and sniffed as she walked toward her bedroom.
Another half hour passed as the kids changed, brushed their teeth and continued to show the effects of too much sugar. Except our oldest daughter who kept searching for her crab. We had scripture and prayer--remembering to pray for missing Kermit--and herded everyone into the hallway to their rooms.
Not a minute later we heard our daughter's excited squeal. "Kermit!" She came running from the hallway with the missing crab cupped in her hand. "He was just creeping out of my room!"
Like the sparrows mentioned in Luke, Heavenly Father knew and loved those little crabs. But more importantly, He knows and loves my daughter--enough to help her find three tiny critters alive and well.
"But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows."