When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? (ESV)
How would you respond if someone asked you whether you were significant?
I think that most of us would say that we are not very significant. We’d look at all the metrics of success–career influence, economic status, community influence, social media followers–and conclude that we really haven’t made much of a mark on the world. If we wanted to be extra pious, we could even quote a few Bible verses to back up our theory. My guess is we’d mention Job.
Job’s story is that he endures what appears to be some unjust suffering. He can’t figure it out. He wants to confront God about it. His friends give tell him it’s probably his fault and Job disagrees. Finally, God himself responds and turns the tables back on Job, essentially asking him, who do you think you are?Job gets the picture and acknowledges that he may not have had a full grasp on the situation. Paul even quotes from the book of Job in his letter to the Romans asking the rhetorical question “who are you oh man to question God?” Obviously, the moral of the story is that we are insignificant.
Except it’s not. It’s actually just the opposite.
There is no question that the story of Job and Paul’s quotation of it in Romans are intended to put a stark contrast between who God is and who we are. Our understanding of why things are a certain way is limited, God’s is not. Our capacity is limited, God’s is not. Our reach is limited, God’s is not. Acknowledging that we are not God, however, is not the same thing as saying that we are insignificant. In fact, it is in our acknowledgement that we are not God that we receiveour significance.
This is what David is getting at in Psalm 8. We are nothing in comparison to God, and yet God pays attention to us. He listens to us and is mindful of us. Despite our humanity and our seeming lack of anything that would make us special, God treats us as if we are incredibly significant, because we areincredibly significant to him.
Don’t miss the fact that God respondsto Job. Job needed correction because Job is not God. The fact that God gave it to him reveals just how significant Job actually was.
The next time you wonder whether you are significant remember that the God of the universe thinks you are.