March 17, 2021
by Pastor Dan
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:3-5
This is one of my favorite passages from the Bible. Psalm 8 is one of the very few Psalms I can name by number off the top of my head. It serves to remind us both of how small we are in comparison to the wondrous majesty of Creation, and—in spite of how small we are—how important we are to God. It also reminds me of a conversation I once heard in a video (not a religious video, mind you) that I found online, which took place between two people who were close to my age:
“This kinda stuff… the idea of the small becoming the big and the big becoming the small… it’s like one of the scariest things in the world to me.”
“It has the exact opposite effect on me. The scary idea to me is that I’m not part of some greater system… like that it’s all just a weird… random accident: ‘Oops I’m here!’ If I’m part of something much bigger that has, like, logical order and makes sense, that’s beautiful to me.”
“By George it’s beautiful too, but my immediate reaction is that I’m… terrified, because I’m so insignificant and yet so not.”
“It’s so big that size no longer matters, y’know? The idea of significance and insignificance becomes irrelevant.” Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, 2017
It’s impossible for our brains to truly encapsulate the idea of the actual size of our universe. The observable universe is nearly 100 billion light years across, which is nearly 6 trillion miles, which is a number none of us can possibly grasp. If you scale our entire planet down to the size of a dime, you’d have to walk like a mile to even get halfway across our solar system, which is barely a grain of sand compared to the vastness of even a single galaxy. There is so much out there, so many things bigger than us out there, and so many objects and forces that have infinitely more impact on Creation than any one of us do. When you look at it that way, we are less than nothing.
And yet consider the leaf. A simple leaf—you can probably find one on the ground outside without much trouble. Look at all those intricate veins. Take a magnifying glass and observe the contours and textures of its surface. The delicacy yet strength of its stem. The fragile nature of a leaf’s softness and shape in the summertime, and the crispy metamorphosis it undergoes as new colors come forth and its edges curl. This leaf is so small… and yet it is a universe all its own. A masterpiece full of delicate, intricate, revelatory beauty.
God created a universe full of immense, burning stars, massive, mysterious black holes, planets orbiting in precise ballet, nurseries of swirling gases that could hold millions of Earths… and God created a universe full of leaves. Snowflakes. Beach sand. Entire bacterial ecosystems that live in our intestines and make life work. DNA. Quarks and stuff.
What are we little tiny human beings that God should even notice us? And yet, God doesn’t just notice you… God cares about you.
Am I insignificant? Heck yeah.
But not to God. And that means something.
Scary, isn’t it?
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.