Can You Count the Stars?

Recently I was reading a Bible story book with my three-year old daughter, Evelyn. God tells Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky. So, naturally, Evelyn started counting. She found 17 stars. How many stars can you count in the sky? None of us can count the stars. Based on the estimates scientists throw out there, I highly doubt any of them have taken the time to try. And yet, even though we fail that simple little challenge, for some reason we still buy into the lie that God doesn’t understand us, or know us, or care about us. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So far I’ve been talking in these blogs about what we learn from the fact that God is our Creator. Here’s today’s truth: God’s creation teaches me that God intimately understands me. As Creator, God knows everything and is everywhere. His great knowledge comes from his exalted position on high from which he sees all (Ps. 14:2). Meditate on this gem for a while, it’s one of my favorites:

“He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.”
~Psalm 147:4-5

God knows how many stars there are because he made them all! And he made you and me. God’s unlimited knowledge of us can be either a comfort or a conviction, depending on what kind of a person you are. The Psalms divide all of humanity into two simple categories- the righteous and the wicked.

God Knows the Wicked

God tells us he “notes mischief and vexation” and will act justly on behalf of the fatherless (Ps. 10:14a; 21:8). God has choice words for those who abuse other people, a topic I will write about in much further detail later on. God takes sin against other people seriously, and so should you. It is no laughing matter. God will not overlook sin; he will judge the wicked.

God Knows the Righteous

On the other hand, for those who come to God through Jesus Christ, in faith believing and confessing their sins, he gives them the right to be his children (Jn. 1:12-13). And it is a wonderful thing to be a child of God. Here’s why:

“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
~Psalm 103:13-14

Psalm 139 develops this unique theme extensively. God’s knowledge of us is personal (vv. 1-2), thorough (vs. 2), unbound by time (vs. 4), providential (vs. 5), and beyond our ability to comprehend (vs. 6). As Jonah found out, God’s knowledge of us is inescapable (vv. 7-13).

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Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

Isn’t wonderful to know you are understood? In contrast, how awkward is it when you feel as if you can’t connect with someone? God understands you like no one else. He knows your weaknesses, temptations, limitations and frustrations. He knows how to compassionately bear with you during your greatest wins and biggest failures. That is a comforting truth for today, but it also offers hope for the future. In Christ, the righteous need not fear in the day of judgment (Ps. 1:6; 11:4c-5a; 17:2a).

A Matter of Life and Death

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Because God’s knowledge of us and plans for us are unbound by time, God tells us he has wonderful plans for us even in the womb (vv. 4, 15-16). God views life in the womb as his divine quilting project. Destroying his delicate and beautiful “quilts” is murder. We have no right to interfere. God even views us as taking sides with the wicked when we abuse life in the womb. Most of my readers would heartily agree with me on this, but if you disagree with me, I gently submit to you this question- can you count the stars? Do you call them all by name? If God created and named every star, how much more does he care about every baby in the womb? I encourage you to click on the passages I reference and see what God has said.

Childlike Trust

On a more positive note, God can deliver you from the “hidden traps” (Ps. 142:3) that lie in your path today. But, for him to show us the way, we need to turn to him like a child. We need to submit our plans and our way to his sovereign care. We need to confess any sin that has put us in the camp of the wicked. We need to relinquish our “rights” that we cling to, and instead trust God’s Word. Then we will find understanding, forgiveness, and grace. God’s creation teaches me that God intimately understands me. If he does, then I can trust that he knows what is best.

C.P.

Never Overwhelmed

I always enjoy listening to people order food at a restaurant. The waiter asks if they want ice or no ice. Someone wants to know if the sauce is spicy or tangy. Put the ranch dressing in a cup on the side, not on top of the salad. Is the bread gluten-free? I married into a family that will barter with each other before ordering. “If you order this plate, and I order that plate, do you want to split it in half?” Meanwhile, members of my family would say, “I ordered this plate. It’s all mine!” The kids just want their mac and cheese right now. Mom wants them to get their mac and cheese right now, too! And whoever is paying orders a cheeseburger because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu.

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Even a simple process like ordering food reveals to us the fact that people are complicated. Behind all of the preferences, ideas, and words are people with personalities. And we have not just one, not just two, but many reasons and feelings that help explain why we act the way we act. The more we get to know other people, the more we understand the complexities and intricacies of their personalities. So it is with God.

It’s Complicated

For the past few blogs we have looked at what the Psalms teach us about God’s character as revealed in creation. Now we will see that, though we may try to fit God’s character into neat, easily understandable categories, we cannot fully succeed. You cannot fit God’s character into a box.

The Psalms do not speak of God’s character in a dry, systematic fashion. Here is one of the most common combinations describing God’s character in the Psalms:

God’s creative power
enables
his ability to reign over all
in
steadfast love
and
righteousness
(Psalm 33:4-22; 89:9-14; 136; 145:17; 147)

Notice those four character traits. God is the Creator. God is the King. God is the loyal Covenant-Keeper. God is the righteous Judge. He is all those things at once. Were God any one of those things in isolation, we would be in trouble. But he is all of them. Because he is Creator, he has the right to reign. He has the power to help us. He is not a harsh, stingy dictator—he is a benevolent King. He reigns in steadfast, loyal love and righteousness. He has the compassion to heal us.

God Can Handle “Complicated”

Why does that matter to you and me? Because life is complicated. Relationships are complicated. And, when things don’t go as planned, all the complications can seem a bit overwhelming. When we are overwhelmed, we need to remember that God is not. He is everything we need all at once. When we grasp for control over our future, our King reminds us to trust in his plan. When we despair for having made the same mistake for the umpteenth time, our Covenant-Keeper reminds us he never gives up on us. When we sit in stunned silence having experienced the cruelty of this world, our righteous Judge reminds us that he will set all things right.

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Take a moment to read this Psalm and study these four truths: God is the Creator, God is the King, God is the loyal Covenant-Keeper, and God is the righteous Judge (Psalm 33 is another good one to check out!).

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
~Psalm 111

God, in his character, can handle everything you are facing today. He is never overwhelmed. Run to him. Pour out your heart to him. Find him to be all you need for today.

C.P.