One in a million
A note from my reading highlights...and more questions than answers
From L’Engle’s The Irrational Season:
Our tininess has nothing to do with it. The peculiar idea that bigger is better has been around for at least as long as I have, and it’s always bothered me. There is within it the implication that it is more difficult for God to care about a gnat than about a galaxy. Creation is just as visible in a grain of sand as in a skyful of stars.
The idea that’s always bothered me is that a special person in your life is one in a million. I hear it backwards, and it seems even truer in reverse—that there are millions (billions) of people and I am just one of them. One, out of a billion people created and currently living, to say nothing of the multiple billions who’ve lived before. And out of the millions, why should I have God’s attention?
To say “You are one-in-a-million” seems more like a statement of fact than a compliment to me.
I have never questioned whether or not God is good, but I do sometimes question what His goodness means; what’s His definition of good? And I question whether His goodness is just for humanity en masse or does it get down to the particulars: to you and me and every one in a million.
God is good (but how do we/how does He define goodness?).
I believe in the goodness of God because I see it in the things He’s created and I know it in the humility of God becoming flesh. That’s good. But I question the definition of good when I suffer hard things or you suffer hard things or the world en masse endures hardship—when creation is attacked. Where is the good in His goodness if the present feels bad? Is it a whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger kind of good? Or pain is weakness leaving the body? Does God’s definition of good only include an end result? I guess that’s another question: Do the ends justify the means?
I don’t necessarily have to reconcile His goodness with my own definition of good (and trust me, I’m just asking questions here, not answering them), but I do wonder sometimes about the particularity of it. I wonder about those on the other side of whatever goodness I think I’ve received. I’m one in a million, afterall. How is my life of any singular importance, and how does God’s goodness extend all the way down, from the macro to the micro?
For example: When I hear stories of missionaries whose exit from a country was blocked by bureaucracy while their team spent days praying that God would open doors so they could return home, only for them to fly out just hours before a major earthquake shook the country and killed thousands, I wonder about the definition of good. I wonder why those missionaries were apparently spared by their pleas and thousands of others (surely some of the victims were lovers of God?) were not, and why that is a victory story, a testimony of the power and goodness of God.
I’m not mad the missionaries were spared, and I don’t doubt God’s favor to His people or question His right to allow suffering and not puppeteer us through life. I just see a grieving world and hesitate to party in front of them. Millions are suffering while the one is spared, and that’s hard.
These thoughts are what lead me to highlight the lines above, from Madeleine L’Engle’s book The Irrational Season. Her words talk me down from a crisis of smallness, and I remember that the God I worship is big enough and powerful enough to notice the tiniest bits of His creation, and especially, I think, the suffering parts. Being noticed is a comfort all its own.
I love smallness in a big way, and I suppose God can do even better than I.
I’m not on Instagram as much right now—I’ve deleted it from my phone and it’s not as fun/distracting on the computer—but I miss sharing pictures. The world is beautiful and I like to document that.
So, here is a little horde of small-life-big-love photos I’ve taken lately:
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