Last week the Kepler telescope, launched in 2009, uncovered our closest “Earth-like” planet. Orbiting a sun similar to our own, the planet known as “Kepler-452b” is 1,400 light years away. That means that a craft traveling at the speed of New Horizons could reach our closest “cousin” in a little more than 20 million years. Quite a leap, considering that the earliest civilizations on earth appeared a mere 6,000 years ago.
This gives us a small sense of how infinitely big our universe is. We have difficulty getting our minds around it, especially when we consider that our sun is only one of billions of stars in our galaxy and there are billions of galaxies. When I stood under the night sky in Wyoming I was struck by the almost infinite number of stars that filled the night sky. But, according to astronomers, these stars represent a tiny fragment of the total stars in the universe.
God is creator of all this. To use an anthropomorphic metaphor, He holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand.
In the Psalms, the Bible says, “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:4-5). And again, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! ... When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him?” (Psalm 8:1,3).
Indeed, when we consider the vast expanses of space and time, we are overwhelmed, not only with how immense the universe is, but how insignificant we seem to be. We live on a tiny planet in a remote corner of the vast cosmos, and the appearance of humans is relatively recent in the economy of time. Just yesterday, it seems. Or, perhaps more accurately, just a moment ago.
God is infinite and eternal. We are finite and mortal.
Here is the greater mystery and miracle. The Master Designer of the universe is intimately aware of each human being. He knows you! He knows me! We are important to God. Jesus taught that God notes the fall of the tiniest sparrow in the most remote forest and He counts the very hairs of your head. (Matthew 10:29-31).
He who created the vast universe in all its complexity created us and has declared His love for us. How can this be? Jesus said, “With man it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.”