The Size of Your Problems or the Size of Your God

The size of your problems or the size of your God?

Isaiah 40:9-17


“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and marked off the heavens by the span?”


            When facing struggles and challenges in life, we quickly become overwhelmed.  Adversity confronts us with our weaknesses and frailty. It challenges us with our mortality and finiteness. So many things happen that seem beyond our control and ability to manage.  Life, at times, can seem to be crushing. 

            In verse 1, God calls his people to be comforted.  But at times, these can seem a hollow promise.  When the sounds of marching armies are ringing in their ears, such a call can seem empty and meaningless. Until this point in the book, the focus has been on the pronouncement of God’s judgment upon the nations and Judah for their sin.  Chapter 39 closes with an escape from a near-death experience of Hezekiah.  But the deliverance of God produced in Hezekiah a sense of pride and self-worth.  As a result, he showed the envoys of Assyria the treasures of Israel.  This would set in motion the events that would lead to the captivity and exile of the nation. Chapter 39 ends with a dire warning that the invasion was coming after the death of Hezekiah.  Thus, the sudden change in 40:1 has led some commentators to suggest that chapters 40-66 were written by a different author altogether.  Yet the message is consistent with Isaiah’s overarching theme and God’s redemptive plan.  While punishment and exile were coming, God would remain faithful and still bring salvation to the people, and so the theme of the book changes from impending judgment to the promise of salvation.  This confronts the people and the reader with the question: How can we have confidence in God’s salvation and deliverance in the face of adversity and trials?  To find the answer, Isaiah tells us to look to the stars. 

On December 25th, 2021,  the James Webb Telescope was sent into orbit to replace the aging Hubble Telescope.  With new technology and its infrared lens, it is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope. As a result, it can reach far deeper into space, bringing new visions of the heavens.  In 2022, it was announced that the Webb Space Telescope captured a glimpse of the most distant star known in the universe.  The star, named Earendel, after a character in the J.R.R. Tolkien book “The Silmarillion,” is estimated to be 28 billion light years from earth. To put that in perspective, if you traveled the speed of light, you could go around the earth seven times in one second.  Now multiply that by 28 billion years. Scientists estimate that the universe is now 90 million light-years across. If you wanted to drive to the edge of the known universe going 65 mph, It would take you a quadrillion years or 4.8 × 10¹⁷.  For us, this distance is incomprehensible.  For God, the distance of the expanse of heaven is small enough for him to measure merely by using the span of his hand (Isaiah 40:12). The point of this anthropomorphism is to show us that the immensity of God is so great that even the universe itself cannot contain him.  

The crisis we face is not the size of our problems; it is the size of our God.  We bring God down to our level and make him fallible like us.  We think that we can understand the depth of God and then speak for him. When we begin to grasp God's immensity, we realize that he is powerful enough to ensure that his word to us was recorded without error.  He is big enough to control the events of the world.  He is big enough to set the time and date of the end of the universe.  Man dares to think that we can trump God, that we can dictate what is morally right and wrong, that we can control our destiny, and that human reason can trump God’s morality.  The changing morality of our culture today is not a societal problem or even a moral problem; it is a theological problem.  It stems from the fact that we have made God too small. When God becomes too small to determine our morality, he becomes too small to protect us from our trials. How big is your God? 


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