God's arm is not too short.
I've been thinking about this sentence for the past 36 hours.
Heidi S, our new church treasurer, includes this cryptic line at the bottom of her emails.
I asked Heidi about this.
She replied, "I got the arm thing from Moses complaining to God about the boring manna. God said alright then I'll send meat to the whiners. Moses asked how God was going to make that happen, and God said, "you think my arm is too short."
I love you people and the way you help me to live by faith! Thank you, Heidi.
Her comment brings to mind a book that was first published in 1953: Your God Is Too Small.
Your God Is Too Small was written by the British cleric, J.B. Philipps.
Here is how one of the book's publishers describes it: "The author explains that the problem many of us face today is that we have not found a God who 'fits' our modern needs. Many people are living without faith, mainly because they have never found a God 'big' enough to account for the mysteries of life and death."
Philipps' brief book includes 13 chapters on common misconceptions people have about God.
A few years ago I took the time to do a little research about the man behind the book.
It turns out that Philipps' book was no mere academic exercise. He became a perfectionist after never measuring up to his father's exacting standards. (One of the chapters in Your God Is Too Small is entitled "Absolute Perfection".)
As an adult, Philipps went to a counselor, but his struggle persisted. At one point he described them this way: “I can with difficulty endure the days, but I frankly dread the nights. The second part of almost every night of my life is shot through with such mental pain, fear and horror that I frequently have to wake myself up in order to restore some sort of balance."
Later, one of Philipps' biographers noted: “While he was ministering to others he was himself powerfully afflicted by dark thoughts and mental pains. He knew anxiety and depression from which there was only temporary release. And while he never lost his faith in God, he never ceased to struggle against mental pain.”
I'm not going to wrap this up with some nice and tidy ending. Living by faith isn't easy. It wasn't easy for the Israelites who had to daily rely on God to take care of them. Living by faith wasn't easy for J.B. Philipps, either. This remains case today.