There have been times when the problems in my life seem so significant that God seems small!
Of course, the reality is that God is bigger than all of our problems combined. However, when the world is collapsing around you, it may be hard to see this reality! So, how are we to respond to this type of situation? (1) I have learned in my Christian journey that if I do not know what to do in a situation, then I need to look at our example – Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith! (Hebrews 12:2) How did Jesus handle situations that seemed to be overwhelming?
For example, recall the story of the feeding of the 5000 men (add in the women and children, and you quickly double that number) with the five loaves and two fish provided by a young boy. (Luke 9:12-17. John 6:9) Jesus was looking upon the thousands in need of food and the small amount of food available to feed them. Even if prior arrangements for catering were made feeding this many would be an enormous problem today! Problems like this can make our God seem small – if we keep our eyes on the issue! So, let us discover what Jesus did and do that!
He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. (Mark 6:41 NET)
Jesus accepted the gift of the food from the young boy, said a blessing over it and started multiplying it. Incomplete, we missed a step where Jesus looked up to heaven. The Greek word used here for “looking up” means to “recover (lost) sight” (i.e., have your VISION restored). Jesus had been watching the problem of feeding the large group with such a small supply and needed to recover His sight or have His VISION restored by looking to Heaven. So, let us do what Jesus did!
I have found it helpful in restoring my VISION to consider the heavens and the works of His hands when faced with seemingly significant problems. (Psalms 8:3)
In the words of King Solomon:
“God does not really live on the earth! Look, if the sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this temple I have built! 1 Kings 8:27
Since the heavens (i.e., 1st Heaven = Sky, 2nd Heaven = Outer space, 3rd Heaven = God’s dwelling (2 Corinthians 12:2) cannot contain all of God, knowing the size of our universe can help us begin to comprehend the magnitude of God. Consequently, we will see how small our problems are in comparison to Him. So, let us look up to heaven together!
We will get a feel for the size of our universe by measuring how long it would take to travel the distance at the speed of light. Albert Einstein proved that light is the fastest moving thing in a vacuum, with its speed being 186,282 miles per second (299,792,458 meters per second or approximately 3.0E8 m/s). Why stated, “in a vacuum”? That is because the speed of light varies depending on the medium through which it is traveling, and outer space is essentially a vacuum. In water, light slows to 140,000 miles per second, in glass 124,000 miles per second. Through a diamond 77,500 miles per second. It is the slowing down of light in a diamond that helps give its distinctive look!
Exploring the universe traveling at the speed of light in a vacuum (186,282 miles per second) would require the following amount of time to reach these heavenly bodies (also listed is the necessary time for a plane traveling at 550 mph or a car at 55 mph to go the same distance):
Earth to Moon – 1.28 seconds (18.1 days by aircraft, 181 days by car)
Sun to Earth – 8 minutes 20 seconds (19 years by plane, 192 years by car)
Sun to Pluto – 5.47 hours (761 years by aircraft, 7,612 years by car)
Sun to Proxima Centauri (nearest star after our Sun) – 4.22 years (5 million years by plane, 51 million years by car)
Sun to Andromeda Galaxy (nearest galaxy) – 2.52 Million Years (3 trillion years by aircraft, 30 trillion years by car)
Sun to Edge of Universe – 13.7 Billion Years (17 quadrillion years by plane, 167 quadrillion years by car)
Furthermore, if the Sun (our closest star to Earth) were the size of a soccer ball (27.5 inches), then the following would be the scaled diameter, distance from the Sun:
Earth – 0.25 inches, 81 yards
Pluto – 0.04 inches, 2 miles
Proxima Centauri (nearest star to the sun) – 4 inches, 12,376 miles
Andromeda Galaxy – 645 million miles, 7 billion miles
Universe – 272 trillion miles, 40 trillion miles (to the edge) (3)
For reference, 0.01 inches is about the size of a grain of sand; 0.1 inches is the thickness of a pencil point.
If the universe is that gigantic then how big (i.e., powerful) is the God that made it? (Isaiah 40:12)
The answer – infinite! (Psalms 62:11) Compared to God all our problems are too small to be measured!
Consequently, when things are making God look small while you are fighting against seemingly massive problems (Psalms 12:8), remember in the spiritual world the opposite is true (Psalms 12:5;21:8-10). So, we must look to heaven and have our VISION restored! That is, when things look down, look up!
(1) Left-click on the link to open another tab for more information.
(2) The image is called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Starting in late 2003, astronomers pointed Hubble at a tiny, relatively empty part of our sky (only a few stars from the Milky Way visible), and created an exposure nearly 12 days long over four months. The result is this fantastic image, looking back through time at thousands of galaxies that range from 1 to 13.7 billion light-years away from Earth. Observed in this tiny patch of the sky (a tenth the size of the full moon) are some 10,000 galaxies with each galaxy home to billions of stars. Go outside tonight, take a ball-point pen with you and hold it up in front of the night sky at arm’s length. The tip of your pen is about 1 millimeter wide, and at arm’s length, it would cover the 10,000 galaxies seen in the Ultra Deep Field image. That’s how unbelievably massive the visible universe is!
(3) Spreadsheet used to calculate these dimensions: