Are You a Numbers Person? Is God?

How Can God Care for One?

If there are over 7 billion people living on the planet at this very moment, how can God care about me, just one single person?

Big numbers are overwhelming. We’re not made to comprehend big numbers.

Until recently, most languages didn’t even have numbers past 1-2-3-4-5. Anything more than five was “a lot,” according to Chip Heath in his new book Making Numbers Count.

But when we bring numbers down to a manageable perspective, we can grasp them.

And see how valuable they are.

I looked up how many nerve cells we have in our brain. Current estimates are over 85 billion. It would take you and 11 other people on Earth to represent one single nerve cell in your brain. And another 11 people for the next cell, on and on.

Yet, doesn’t every nerve cell count? If you stub your toe, you feel it. If an eyelash lands in your eye, you’re aware of it. And if you’ve ever had a toothache in just one tiny tooth, you know the importance of every nerve cell.

So if we can understand how each cell counts, how much more does God care about each human being made in God’s very own beautiful image?

God cares.

I still can’t fathom caring about 7 billion people, but I can understand caring about the pinch of a needle to draw blood from my arm, or the sweet feel of a baby’s fat cheek with my fingertips.

Large or small, numbers can still be boiled down to one at a time.

I’m thankful my one matters to God.

Making Numbers Count

If you want to read more about how to see numbers from a human perspective, I highly recommend Chip Heath’s book, Making Numbers Count. (I’ll read any book he writes.)

Here’s a taste of how he makes numbers count by putting them in terms we understand.

Instead of the dry statistic that a single M&M has 4 calories, or a single Pringle has 10 calories, think of it like this:

“In order to burn off the calories in a single M&M, you’d have to walk 2 flights of stairs. In order to burn off the calories in a single Pringle, you’d have to walk 176 yards, or almost 2 football fields.”

Or if you want to understand the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire, put it in a time framework:

“If a million seconds is twelve days, a billion seconds is thirty-two years.”

Making Numbers Count is full of ideas and examples of how we use numbers to make meaning in our lives.

For me, I’m using numbers today to remind me how valuable we each are to God, regardless of how many numbers of us there are.

Do you think of yourself as a numbers person? (I used to be an accountant, so I count myself in the loving-numbers crowd.) What helps you realize your worth to God? Share in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + Avid Reader Press
for the review copy of Making Numbers Count

sharing at these linkups

13 thoughts on “Are You a Numbers Person? Is God?

  1. Yvonne Chase

    I am not a numbers person at all. Math was my least favorite subject. I know the basics and that’s enough for me. ?So glad God is a numbers person. With 7 billion people on the planet, it brings my heart joy that he knows me by name and he knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows everything about me. I am grateful beyond measure for his love for me.

  2. Jan

    Thank you for reminding us that we are so very valuable to God-That even though I’m just one of billions I still matter so much that he calls me daughter.

  3. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    I am definitely NOT a numbers person—that’s why I married an accountant. Just kidding. I love your message today. It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around big numbers like that…apparently even for those who claim to be numbers people. 🙂 For me, God uses the stars to remind me of my worth to Him. Pictures of countless galaxies and the vastness of space always fills me with a sense of awe at the power behind the creation of them—and yet God sees and cares when the sparrow falls. What an awesome God we serve.

  4. Lois Flowers

    I think you may have ruined M&Ms and Pringles for me, Lisa. (Just kidding.) This sounds like a fascinating book. Even better, though, is God’s care for each of us as if we were the only one in the world. Hugs, friend.

  5. Joanne Viola

    Math was my favorite subject in school! I enjoyed this post as it was such a good reminder this morning that although there are many people in this world, God loves ME! Oh, and He loves you too! 🙂

  6. Maryleigh

    I am not a numbers person but they both fascinate and overwhelm me. My boys cannot fathom how a mom cannot have a favorite – but when I had five sons, I understood how they can all be your favorite – and how in such vast numbers of people, God can love each one of us like a favorite. This would make a good stocking stuffer for my math guys!

  7. Jerralea Winn Miller

    I’m not a numbers person. It blows my mind to realize how intimate God is with each of His children. I often say, “I have three daughters and I can’t keep up where they are every minute; yet God knows the thoughts of each of our hearts!”

    What an awesome glorious God we serve!

  8. Lynn

    How interesting! Numbers can give us a brand new perspective. A sometimes scary perspective, too, but honest. I tend to like percentages over hard numbers when it comes to analytics. That book sounds very interesting though!

  9. David

    I’m a computer programmer and I work a fair bit with statistics, so I suppose I’m a numbers person — though I think of myself more as a patterns person, and maths about patterns more than about numbers. I love the language of numbers (like in Chip Heath’s book) and I find the way maths has developed over the centuries fascinating.

    Making a number into a name makes it easier to grasp — a fortnight, a day’s travel, a nation. Making a name into a number emphasises each individual in the set. The Books of Numbers (of course) and Chronicles are big on numbers and lists, and not just the usual suspects — seven, twelve, forty, — but real numbers — Numbers 1:25 “those registered to the tribe of Gad numbered 45,650.” Every one counts. These books, and all the lists in Nehemiah of the people who helped heal Jerusalem, remind me how important to God are all the ordinary “little” people. We each have our place in His Book and as part of His Body.

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