Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.
To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:12-31
Before I begin to share my thoughts about this passage from Isaiah 40, let me acknowledge that 1) I have again used a lengthy portion of scripture and 2) I have already written on the last few paragraphs of the above portion. In explanation, 1) Summarization of the above was not an option for today’s article and 2) My thoughts for today are on a different vein than the previous writing on Isaiah 40:25-31. This said, I hope you will bear with me.
I am a very emotional person. This is, I am told, both a strength and a weakness, depending on how I direct it. God gives us the spirit of self-discipline to empower us to channel the aspects of our nature to imitation of Christ and His holy purpose and not squander them or be enslaved by them. When in their right place, I find my emotions to be valuable to empathy, passionate prayer and worship, and to love and faith in my Creator. Out of place, they send me on a roller coaster of confusion that usually ends in the slough of despond. Thus, one of the chores of walking with the Spirit for me has been to perpetually cling to right perspective and to map the paths back to it when I lose my way.
Right perspective, as I have shared in previous writings, is my solid ground, my firm place to take my stand and wield the weapons God has given me. When I lose it, I lose my footing. I stumble and fall and am overpowered. Fear and fatalism are the enemies that wait for these opportunities to afflict me. The only way to regain my feet is to regain right perspective. I have learned this by much trial and error and as a result, I no longer mess around, praying for the scary things to go away or to feel better or particular circumstances to change. I pray for the thing I need most, the critical ingredient that will facilitate all of those lesser prayers. Right perspective is my most important need. I need to see God, high and lifted up above everything else. When I do, everything else regains proper proportions. It doesn’t matter how small I am in the vast sea of perplexities. What matters is how small they are before the infinite majesty of Him.
Reread the above passage. Let the words of Isaiah adjust the proportions of things for you. I am particularly moved by verse 26: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” I have been blessed in the last few years to live in places that are far from the light pollution of cities so that I can see the stars. It is said that there are about 4,000 visible with the naked eye, but that there are countless trillions in the universe. The iconic photo snapped by Voyager 1 in 1990, aptly named ‘The Pale Blue Dot’, shows said dot in a slim ray of dim light in the midst of the dark of space. This dot is our planet, Earth, seen from 3.7 billion miles away, when Voyager 1 was leaving our solar system. The ray of light was from our Sun, its warmth and illumination rather feeble at such distances. Yet our Sun is only one of 200-400 billion other stars in our average-sized galaxy and the current count on galaxies in the universe is more than 170 billion, with more being spotted and counted regularly as our telescopes increase in effectiveness. We haven’t yet seen them all, but He calls them each by name.
All the troubles of our world – war, strife, deception, oppression, injustice, exploitation and destruction – are real and need to be addressed with prayer and action, but step back and remember: they are limited to the minute geography of the Pale Blue Dot and it has a finite lifespan. All of that will end and be dealt with. The Day of Christ will come. In the meantime, right perspective of the magnitude of God in contrast to the limited scope of the troubles is given to strengthen the faith and resolve of His people as they wait and work for that blessed day. If you are inclined to respond emotionally, as I am, let that view swell your heart with joy, calm the tension in your nerves and move your spirit to pray with effectiveness rather than with desperation. We are o, so very small, but He sits enthroned above and all will be well.