Big Enough to Help

Proverbs 30:4 “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!”

People make big claims about what they have done and what they can do. This is an election year, so we will be subjected to more outlandish claims than usual. Mere mortals running for president or congress will promise that they can fix the economy, stop the pandemic, put an end to injustice, and get everyone working again. Frankly, even if they were running for dictator or king I would be skeptical of their claims. Our challenges are bigger than one politician, or even thousands of them, it seems to me.

 Yet all these challenges are far smaller things than making a trip from earth to heaven and back, or controlling the wind and the rain, or determining the size of the earth and then building it! “What is his name, and the name of his son?” the name of the one who can do these things, the writer asks. “Tell me if you know!” And we do. His name is God, and his Son’s name is Jesus.  The hurricanes and the storms are his playthings. The earth and the universe are a project he put together one week. He even got it done in time to take a day off that weekend.

It puts us in our place, doesn’t it. Hundreds, thousands, and even millions of us working together can’t get control of one little feature of life on this planet God made, and we think we are going to lecture the one who designed and developed the vast universe in which we live, as if we think we know something.

Worse yet, the only reason things don’t work perfectly all the time is the result of our meddling in God’s business. Have you ever heard of “stolen valor?” Some men have claimed that they did heroic things and received medals while serving in our armed forces. They never actually did what they claimed. They lied in order to impress others. It makes many veterans, especially those who have earned medals for their bravery and sacrifices, furious.

It rightly makes God furious that we think we could stand before him with our false claims about what we have done or could do with his universe, and question him about the way he is running the show.

But this list of questions isn’t merely confrontational. It is a reminder of where true help lies. It is an invitation. Fix the world’s problems? I can’t even fix my own! They are so much bigger than I am. No human source of help is much better. Then God asks us to remember his power. As Lutherans, we generally emphasize God’s grace, and rightly so, because that is the emphasis of Jesus’ ministry and that of his apostles. Above all things we need to know that God loves us, that he forgives us, that he is on our side.

But God isn’t just a sympathetic weakling. When he hears our prayers, he isn’t like the counselor with lots of questions, lots of patience, but few suggestions about what to do. He has power to change our circumstances, and to change ourselves. When he saw our sins, he didn’t pat us on the head and say, “There, there now. It will be okay.” He didn’t give us advice. He used his power to turn himself into a man. He lived a perfect life, then shouldered the responsibility for our sin. After he let himself be killed, he walked out of his grave alive and glorified. He saved us.

When my life is out of my control (and when isn’t it, really?) and I’ve got trouble, he has control of everything from the orbits of the planets and the stars in our galaxy to the movements of the microscopic electrons in every little atom.

“Remember my power,” he tells us, “and come to me for help.” If we know him, we know the one who truly can solve our problems.

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