Faith Matters: Here’s why nothing is as painful as walking away from God altogether

We tend to like big things.

Outside of the Denver Animal Shelter is a nearly 20-foot-tall dog. It’s made using 90,000 dog tags that shine and dance in the Colorado weather.

In France there is a statue of an 18-ton thumb. It’s located in the La Defense Quarter of the business district of Paris. It stands over 57 feet tall and is modeled after the artist’s own appendage.

And if you’re ever in Australia, be sure to visit the country’s biggest crustacean named Larry the Lobster. He’s over 54 feet tall and of course painted red.

Why do we gravitate toward things of size? For some reason, they have a unique power to create awe in us. We stand and gaze upward at the towering buildings in New York City or with jaw-dropping wonder at the Grand Canyon.

Big things exude power and strength. They make us feel small and in so doing powerless. This seems to be the universal reaction from people around the globe for most things big, but with one exception — God.

For some reason, we tend to make Him small. We tend to see Him as less powerful. We tend to believe He can’t instead of believing He can.

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Dr. J. Phillip Hamm is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Palmetto.

Kids seem to naturally believe God is big and powerful, kind and loving. He stays that way in most of our lives until something happens to make us think otherwise.

Our parents’ divorce in the middle of our sophomore year in high school, a partner breaks it off two months before the wedding or our first child is still-born. The more pain we have, the smaller our God becomes.

We assume a big and loving God would not allow us to hurt so badly.

We conclude, therefore, God is neither kind nor powerful.

It’s in these seasons of pain we find another option. Our faith can continue to be built on what others have told us about God, like that of a child, or our faith can be based on what we know about God through scripture.

It’s difficult to walk through seasons of pain and wrestle with the faithfulness of God. It’s hard to wonder where He is and to ask why He allows such pain.

But none of this is as painful as walking away from God altogether. Walking through the valley and the darkness it brings no doubt is difficult. But it’s not as painful as staying in the valley. The smaller we make God, the longer we seem to stay in the darkness it brings.

Isaiah the prophet tried to help people struggling with the size of God by asking, “Who has measured the waters in the hallow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span; who enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and who weighed the mountains in scales?”

You may still be wrestling with the size and power of God.

But I promise He’s bigger than anything we’ve ever encountered, including a 54-foot-tall red lobster named Larry.

Dr. J. Phillip Hamm is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Palmetto. Reach the church at 941-722-7795 or visit Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald written by local clergy members.

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