No one really knows how many stars are in the Universe. Even using the best instruments available it is not clear how many stars are in the Milky Way galaxy (our galaxy). Some experts in this field have estimated there may be as many as 2 trillion galaxies with each galaxy containing an average of 100 million stars. Even a conservative estimate would yield more stars than we can fathom.
One question Christ-followers should consider is why did a good and purposeful God create so many stars if we are incapable of seeing all of them or even understanding their multitude?
A Seemingly Infinite Galaxy declares God’s Infinite Glory
One limitation of this question is that it assumes God created the stars exclusively for us. However, this is not the case. Psalm 19:1 teaches that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (ESV). Simply put, God created stars to declare His glory. There are an incomprehensible amount of stars because His glory is incomprehensible.
The Universe and all of its contents are like a choir declaring God’s glory and the audience is every human being, angelic being, and even God himself. When we gaze into the sky God invites our hearts to join the chorus of the heavens in order to exalt who He is. It is only right that an infinite God with infinite glory deemed it necessary to sing His glory with a seemingly infinite universe. While it is true that God created the stars for His glory a more nuanced look at God’s purpose in creating the stars reveals God’s pastoral care for our anxious hearts.
God’s Word Speaks to those who are Overcome with Anxious Thoughts
In my experience those who struggle with anxious thoughts are often tempted to believe harmful lies which feed back into and compound feelings of anxiety. For instance, anxious hearts tend to believe that they are alone (“No one knows what it’s like to be in my head.”) and also they tend to feel a heightened sense of responsibility to control the future and how things turn out. These examples are anecdotal and anyone who deals with anxiety would be quick to point out that they are not an exhaustive description of what it means and feels like to battle anxiety. That being said, it is helpful to consider how God’s Word speaks to these commonly shared experiences.
In Luke 12 Jesus calls our attention to the Father’s intimate knowledge and care for ravens (v.24) and lilies (v.27). In this instance Jesus speaks to the Father’s awareness and care of relatively lesser created things as a way of soothing anxious hearts. Jesus’ logic is that if the Father knows and takes care of these simple and relatively insignificant things then certainly He will care for us, the crown jewel of His Creation (Psalm 8:3-4). This is good news for those of us struggling with anxious thoughts because it means that we are not alone and also that we do not have to feel the weight of controlling the future. There is One who knows our worries and cares for us and the outcome of our situation beyond what we could ever imagine.
The Soothing Work of God’s Universe
It’s not just knowledge of God’s intricate care for birds and flowers which soothes anxious hearts. A look at what God tells us about those seemingly innumerable stars cast throughout the depths of the Universe is also soothing to our anxious hearts.
In Psalm 147:4 we read a telling statement about the stars, “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (ESV). The seemingly infinite number of stars are included in God’s intimate knowledge. He alone knows their exact number and even more than that He has them named.
Not only is God intimately aware of the stars, He is also present and in control of them. We see this in Isaiah 40:26 which says, “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing” (ESV). If God is intimately aware and in control of what is going on with flaming balls of gas billions of light years away then certainly He knows and is control of your situation in ways you just cannot fathom. God’s Word is helping us feel the weight of this reality so we can see that God created the stars both for His glory and for our good.
I am not suggesting that all it takes to cure and overcome anxious thoughts is a good long look at the stars. Anxiety is complex and the conversation of getting help should involve a multitude of counselors including medical professionals and pastors. That being said, God’s Word provides hope and help for those struggling with anxious feelings and thoughts. One of the ways God provides this hope and help for those struggling with anxious thoughts is by instructing followers of Christ how to interact with the world around us.
While it is important to see that God created the stars for His glory it also important to not miss the truth that one of the ways the God gets glory is when His Saints have their hearts instructed by His Word on how to interact with a created thing like stars and are soothed as a result. When we hear the birds outside chirp, see our neighbors beautifully maintained flower gardens, and pause to gaze into star filled skies we should be comforted. God knows and is in control of these things but is much more concerned for those in Christ.
How Many Stars Are In The Universe? By Elizabeth Howell on Space.com (accessed 7 April, 2019).
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Psalm 88 and all other Scripture). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.