The world is big and I am small.

Today I feel small. There is so much happening around the world right now at a pace that leaves me feeling stunned. I can’t take it all in. I have been praying with my church for those in Ukraine these past few days and then today I gave a lecture to graduate students in Russia via zoom and my heart went out to them as well. I wished I could have stopped the lecture and just asked how they were doing. But the truth is that things are changing so fast and their world is being turned upside down in ways they can’t predict by a war they didn’t ask for, that they probably don’t really know how they are doing. They have no more idea how this war will unfold in the next few days or weeks and how it will impact their lives than I do. Even if I could have stopped the lecture, what could I have said at such a moment? I felt small in the face of so much I cannot fathom and feel powerless to change or make right.

Photo by Akbaranifsolo

One of my favorite songs that my church sang when I was young was taken from Psalm 61. The words are simple, but they have come back to me at such times when I have felt as I did today. The words reassure me that feeling small is not such a bad thing, for it turns our gaze to the One who is bigger than we are. The words to the song are:

Here my cry, O God; Attend unto my prayer. From the ends of the earth, will I cry unto Thee. And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock, that is higher than I. So much higher than I….

These simple words quiet my heart. The same God who made the mountains grand and the stars untouchably high also made me small and it seems that He made me small on purpose. He could have made me as strong as an elephant or as tall as a giraffe or as powerful as a lion, but it was never God’s intention that I was supposed to fend for myself. As Chesterton once observed,

“It is quite futile to argue that man is small compared to the cosmos; for man was always small compared to the nearest tree.”

~GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

God never said that I was supposed to understand it all, or manage it all, or have answers for it all. What He did say was, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28), and also “If you don’t change your heart and become like small children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).

Part of the intention of His design was for me to be small so that I could “trust in the shelter of His wings” and could learn to know Him through His sheltering care for me in the midst of chaotic waves of life tossing and crashing around me. It made me wonder if Jesus ever felt “small” inhabiting a frail and vulnerable human body that needed sleep and felt hunger pangs and could only be in one place at one time. I wonder how Jesus’ time on earth changed or deepened His relationship with His Father as Jesus learned obedience and dependence living in a fragile clay vessel as one of us. I don’t know the answers to the musings, but they made me see that “smallness” is a relative term. Jesus was never “small” in the Father’s eyes… and nor are we. Jesus tells us, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither so nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” (Luke 12:24)

There is a lovely children’s book by Emma Dodd that expresses this truth in a profound way:

The world is big,

and I am small.

The world is fast,

and I am small.

The ocean is deep,

and I am small.

The mountains are steep,

and I am small.

The wind is strong,

and I am small.

The winter is long,

and I am small.

The sky is high,

and I am small.

The stars stretch far,

and I am small.

These things are big and long and deep

and strong and high and far and steep.

But You* are BIG and You are KIND

When I’m with You, I do not mind.

I may be SMALL, but I can see,

The biggest thing to You is me!

*Capitalization added

Thank You, my Lord, for treasuring us in our smallness and promising to be the sure Rock we can always run to in our times of distress and trouble. Thank You for loving us so much, You sent Your Son to be small with us, and show us the way back to Your heart where You shelter our souls in Your anchor of peace no matter how small we feel in the midst of the storm.

One thought on “The world is big and I am small.

  1. Your words are resonating with the thoughts in my heart and mind today. Thank you, Friend! In our time of prayer today, we worked through the verses of Psalm 46 and I couldn’t help but think of all of the news that I’ve been reading regarding the war in Ukraine. “Come, behold the works of the LORD…He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!'” (Psalm 46:9-10). In context, God is telling the nations to be still and recognize who He is…wow. He can just speak and the earth melts. The verse speaks to my heart as well: be still, be quiet, and remember who your God is. He is the LORD of hosts. He is our refuge and strength. He is our quiet place of rest. He is the One in control. He is not tame, but He is good.


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