Jabberjays: “They’re funny birds and something of a slap in the face to the Capitol. During the rebellion, the Capitol bred a series of genetically altered animals as weapons. The common term for them was muttations, or sometimes mutts for short. One was a special bird called a jabberjay that had the ability to memorize and repeat whole human conversations. They were homing birds, exclusively male, that were released into regions where the Capitol’s enemies were known to be hiding. After the birds gathered words, they’d fly back to centers to be recorded. It took people awhile to realize what was going on in the districts, how private conversations were being transmitted. Then, of course, the rebels fed the Capitol endless lies, and the joke was on it. So the centers were shut down and the birds were abandoned to die off in the wild.”
I love the image of the Jabberjays. Here’s what happened. The Capitol took something good, pure, and innocent—birds—and then twisted them through genetic mutation into something different, something they could use for evil. The birds became unwitting spies, mimicking back to the Capitol things they had heard in the Districts.
So far there’s not much to love about Jabberjays—I mean, seriously, mutated spy birds don’t sound all that endearing. But the story doesn’t stop there…this is where it gets good. The people in the districts caught on to the Capitol’s ploy. Now, they could have simply stopped saying anything that might get them in trouble. The Capitol would stop getting information; the people wouldn’t get in trouble. Enemy plot foiled…end of story.
That’s not what they did, though. They didn’t just foil the enemy’s plot; they went a step further and turned the Capitol’s own weapon against it. They began to feed those Jabberjays (and therefore the Capitol) all kinds of misinformation. I can only imagine the trouble the Districts must have caused the Capitol through those Jabberjays. They definitely got the last laugh!
When I read about the Jabberjays I was immediately reminded of a verse in Genesis: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph said these words to his brothers, the very ones who had sold him into slavery (after they were barely talked out of killing him outright).
Do you see the parallels between this and the Jabberjays? Joseph’s brothers intended to harm him but God was aware of their plot. God didn’t simply keep Joseph from harm; He went beyond that. He turned the very thing that was intended for Joseph’s harm into something that was for the good of all…for “the saving of many lives”—including the lives of his brothers.
I heard a speaker once talking about this principle. He said that God gives “upgrades.” Look at Job. Satan was allowed to take pretty much everything from him: his wealth, his children, his work, his health… but that wasn’t the end of the story. “The LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” The enemy stole from Job, but in the end, God took all that the enemy intended for Job’s harm and used it as an opportunity for good, to give Job an upgrade!
The Bible is full of these scenarios. It’s full of “Jabberjays,” if you will—times where the enemy designed some thing, event, or even person to do harm to God’s Kingdom, but God turned it around and used it for His purposes instead—to further His Kingdom, to bless His people, and to glorify His name.
The Bible isn’t just full of past examples, but it’s also full of promises of God’s ability and willingness to do this for us. Over and over, if you look for it, you’ll begin to see promises that God will take all that is intended for our harm and, in a reversal of fortune, use it as an opportunity to give us an upgrade.
Isaiah 61:1-7 is one of my favorite passages on the subject (emphases mine):
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
I can see why Jabberjays became a symbol of hope for the people of Panem. We could all use some Jabberjays in our lives—symbols of hope, reminders that God can take anything the enemy designs for our harm and use it for our good. We need to remember that in the end, all the enemy’s plans will end up becoming nothing more than a slap in his face and the joke will be on him. God will get the last laugh…and we will all be laughing with him, in joyous victory!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you have any personal examples when something you thought was going to be really bad turned out to be for your good instead?
- Jabberjays became a symbol of hope for Panem. Do you have a “Jabberjay” in your life? Do you have something that reminds you that God can turn all things into good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28)?
- What people can you think of who, like Job and Joseph, seemed to lose everything, but in the end found that “The LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before,” and “God intended it for good to accomplish … the saving of many lives”? One example I can think of is the surfer who lost her arm, Bethany Hamilton. Can you think of others?
- Are there things in your life right now which seem expressly designed by the enemy for your harm?
- Do you have a hard time believing that God can turn the ashes of your life into something beautiful?