Minister's corner: God Loves 'small'

Elizabeth Affsprung, United Presbyterian Church

When you’re weary, feelin’ small,

when tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all - -

We baby-boomers remember this song from 1970: Bridge Over Troubled Water, but all people, old and young, feel small and helpless some- times. As if we’re being kicked around by forces too big to combat, or at least as if real life is happening somewhere else; we feel left out and left behind.

For those times, it can help to remember a persistent theme from the Bible: God loves small, and often deliberately reveals himself to people, groups, or nations that are small or unimportant in the world’s eyes.

Moses points this out to the Jewish people God claimed for his own. “God did not set his affection on you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples! But it was because the Lord your God loved you…” (See Deuteronomy 7)

Children are the small people of our society in every sense, small and powerless. So children enjoy the Bible story of David as a kid, long before he became King David. He was the youngest son of a herdsman named Jesse, they hailed from a tiny dot on the map the world came to know: Bethlehem. When the prophet Samuel came to visit, looking for the one God had chosen to lead God’s people, Jesse called for all his big healthy handsome sons, to be introduced to the prophet, as any proud parent would do.

Seven of Jesse’s sons, we’re told, were called in to meet the prophet, but God didn’t give Samuel the nudge for any of them, to declare and anoint him as Israel’s leader. Samuel had to ask Jesse whether he had met all the family, and only then did Jesse think to send for David, who was out tending the sheep, who knows how many miles away. It turns out that the runt of the litter was the lad God had in mind! To lead God’s people. And the moral of the story is memorable: “People look at appearances, but God looks at the heart.” (1st Samuel 16) We can conclude from the life David led, flawed though he was, that God can do great things with small people.

Jesus shares God’s penchant for the least, the last, and the lost (naturally enough). More than once, the Gospels show us that Jesus’ disciples competed and quarreled for status among themselves. Jesus scolded them, and offered a small kid for contrast: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom.” (Matthew 18)

Jesus shared meals with tax collectors and other folk who members of polite society wouldn’t even speak to. He touched lepers, welcomed women as disciples, and when a Roman sergeant sent to Jesus for help, healed his servant, even though the Romans were enemies and oppressors of the Jewish people. (Luke 7)

Nobody was a nobody to Jesus; nobody was unimportant or unwanted! And Jesus is the clearest window we have into the heart of God.

So when you are feeling small (and I promise, it befalls all of us) take some comfort and courage in knowing that God is on your side; God works behind the scenes, only for your good. God is bigger than we are, and much bigger than the forces arrayed against us. You have God’s word for this. We even have God’s promise to dry those tears. One day “God will dwell with his people...He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21) Even here and now, we can talk to God about our troubled waters, and stay alert to receive God’s insight, help and hope.

Feeling small? Been there! How grateful I am to know the real God, who really loves small.