The speed of light is about 300,000 km/second, or 186,000 miles/second. Radio signals travel at the speed of light. A radio conversation with someone on the moon involves a time delay of about 2½ seconds, since that is the time required for light to travel to the moon and back.
The distance between the earth and sun is about 93,000,000 miles, or 150,000,000 km. The time required for light to reach the earth from the sun is about 500 seconds! That is about eight minutes and 20 seconds.
Radio signals to Voyager 1, the most distant man-made satellite, require 19 hours to cross space from the earth. The nearest star to our planet is Alpha Centauri – and if you could travel at the speed of light, it would take 4.3 years to make the journey.
In talking about space and astronomy, distances are described in terms of the speed of light. So the distance to the sun is about eight minutes at the “speed of light.” The distance to the nearest star is “4.3 light years.”
So, how big is the whole universe? Astronomers calculate that the edge of the observable universe is about 46.5 billion light years away from us! That means it is about 93,000,000,000 light years in diameter! Now some sources are saying it is 156 billion light years in diameter.
And this universe is estimated to be filled with quite a few stars. On any given night there are only a few more than 9000 stars visible to the unaided human eye – and that includes both hemispheres. So in either hemisphere of the night-time sky one could count about 4500 stars.
But now there are very powerful telescopes that have detected millions and millions of stars! God said that the stars were innumerable – that is to say that they could not be numbered or counted!
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured . . . (Jeremiah 33:22)
Astronomers now understand that the universe is filled with millions of galaxies, each one with millions of stars. Estimates of the number of stars in the universe vary, but some calculate that number to be as many as 300 sextillion! That is the number three followed by 23 zeros – 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (the number estimated by Space.com). And that estimate is from 2010. Now they have added another zero – one septillion! (One followed by 24 zeros.)
Do you know that God put those stars there in that great big universe just to let you know who He is, how awesome He is?
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1)
And we are asked by secular minds to believe that this vast universe of zillions of stars made itself out of nothing! But we know that it did not make itself. In fact, according to Paul, everyone knows. We all know. We know that some being of some sort is the Uncaused Cause and the Originator of everything else.
. . . What may be known about God is plain . . . , because God has made it plain . . . . For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature [His divine Being] – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20)
The Being who is responsible for the existence of this vast universe could not have “needed” it, or anything else. This Being must be incomprehensibly limitless, boundless. All of the stars and the countless intricate molecules and atoms and electrons and particles that comprise the universe from the intricate to the immense can by no means make themselves.
My own complex being, and the psychological make-up of who I am – this reality demands that the Being who made all things be infinitely more complex than myself. Add to that the fact that about seven billion other equally complex humans share this tiny planet with me.
Now here you sit reading this. Does it make you feel small? Yes?!
It makes me feel small. It made David feel small too! He said,
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,
And the son of man that You care for him? (Psalm 8:1, 3 NASB)
The Being who has the capability to bring such a world into existence and to also sustain it . . . Wow! This Maker of all things must Himself be a profound personal Being who knows love perfectly. And He made all things as a place for humans, for you and me, to exist and behold His greatness and goodness – so that we would look for Him who is our Maker, to be in awe of Him!
The God who made the cosmos and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . . He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one blood He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. (Acts 17:20-25)
Why? Why did God create everything and why did He put us here?
God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:26)
He made all these things, all the vastness of the universe and the intricacies of life and the cell and DNA in order that we would be in awe of His majesty. He wants us to understand His love and goodness – so that we will come to Him to receive His intense, unstoppable love.
He is not far from any one of us! Even if I feel like a speck of dust in a sea of bazillions of stars, God holds the universe in His hand and He is also aware of me, and He is intimately and personally connected to me. As vast and innumerable as the stars, so vast also are God’s thoughts toward me, toward each one of us!
Many, LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, the things You planned for us.
None can compare with You; were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare. (Psalm 40:5)
How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand . . . . (Psalm 139:17-18a)
We are so small, and we wonder how it is possible that God can use any of us to accomplish His great plan. But in the context of this great array of innumerable stars, God says that His strength – His praise – is perfectly expressed through babes, through little children. If we would desire to be used of God to accomplish anything, let alone great things, then we must come to Him recognizing our smallness, and bring to Him all that we are.
He holds the vast universe in His hand, but He will zero in on just one individual. He will put His finger on one heart of one child, of one little boy or little girl. Such are we, and we say, “Here Jesus, take my five loaves and my two fish.”
Pause and Reflect:
Think of those who work with you. Who might feel useless and insignificant? Share some words of encouragement with them, reminding them how the awesome God who made the universe is directing our lives to accomplish His plan as we present ourselves to Him.
Is that someone you? Find a trusted fellow-believer to pray with you that you might see God’s hand upon you.