A drop in the bucket
A sense of proportion is priceless. But it can be very elusive. When things go wrong we speak of life getting on top of us. Chips on both shoulders. We can be weighed down with worry, drowning in troubles, outnumbered. It’s us against the world. And the world is winning.
Isaiah knows how this feels. Foreign armies have surrounded God’s city, threatening God’s house – the temple. (Read Isaiah 36-39). The super-powers have devoured other nations like locusts and they come right up to the walls of Jerusalem. It is God’s people who must feel like a drop in the bucket. But no, says Isaiah in chapter 40. We must get a true sense of perspective:
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. (Isaiah 40:15)
It might feel as though God’s people are a drop in the bucket of these mighty nations. But no, it’s these mighty nations that are a drop in the LORD’s bucket! That’s the sense of proportion Isaiah instills.
God’s people are not to look within to find the strength to fight. Nor to look out to find a chink in the enemy’s armour. They must look up to see a LORD who dwarfs their troubles.
He dwarfs them in might and in mercy. Verse 12 tells us about His might:
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
The LORD holds His world the way you or I would hold a contact lens on the tip of our finger. Whatever problems we face, we are one speck on the contact lens bothered by another speck. Does this help us have a sense of proportion?
But it’s not simply the might of the LORD that shapes our perspective. Isaiah also urges us to think of His mercy. Verse 11 says
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Divine power will not help us in our troubles unless we are assured of divine love. And Isaiah tells us that the Mighty LORD is the Merciful Shepherd. He feeds, He gathers, He carries, He gently leads. He is the LORD who rages at His enemies and comforts His children. He clears out the temple and binds up the broken-hearted. He calls forth Lazarus yet first He weeps. He bursts through death yet first bows His head to it.
We can trust this LORD. And when we look to Him our problems are seen in their true context. Viewed by themselves they seem an overwhelming ocean. Set against the backdrop of the Might and Mercy of Christ, they are a drop in the bucket:
Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely… Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love. And repose in his almighty arms. (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)
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