An asteroid with the eloquent name 52768 (otherwise known as 1998 OR2) will pass our planet next week. It is 1.2 miles wide and will be traveling 19,461 miles per hour at the time. If it struck us, it is “large enough to cause global effects,” according to NASA.
Don’t add this to your list of worries, however: the asteroid will miss us by 3,908,791 miles.
A planetary scientist explains why 1998 OR2 is in the news: “The small-scale topographical features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically. But since we are all thinking about COVID-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.”
The facemask-wearing asteroid is the largest asteroid expected to pass us within the next two months, but not the largest ever. That designation belongs to the asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3), which missed us on September 1, 2017 but will pass us again on September 2, 2057. It is estimated to be between 2.5 and 5.5 miles wide.
An often-overlooked path to happiness
In these days of pandemic, end-of-the-world scenarios feel less like science fiction and more like real possibilities. A deadly virus that can infect people without them knowing it, who then can infect others, seems like the plot of a bad horror movie, except we’re all in this film together.
I’ve been doing more radio interviews and teleconferences than ever during the pandemic. A question I’m asked every time raises the age-old problem of theodicy: how can an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God allow such suffering?
After we discuss the various theological approaches to this issue, I try to turn the conversation from the negative to the positive: it’s at times like this that we especially need an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God.
Your Father’s omniscience means that he knew about the pandemic before we did, but it also means that he knows your name and your problems today. His loving nature means that he would seemingly want to prevent this tragedy, but it also means that he cares intimately and passionately about you right now. His omnipotence means that he could end the pandemic miraculously, but it also means that he has the power to “supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
I don’t know what God knows (Isaiah 55:8–9). I don’t know why he allowed the coronavirus pandemic any more than I know why he allows tornadoes and hurricanes.
But I do know that our Father suffers as we suffer (Isaiah 43:2–3) and redeems all he allows (Romans 8:28). And I know that as we ask why he allows the bad, we should also thank him for the good.
If a large asteroid were to strike our planet, people would ask why God allowed it. Such an asteroid will miss our planet next week, but I’m not seeing reports of gratitude for such grace.
You can know that God knows and cares about your pain and problems today. But you might also take a moment to take inventory of all the good in your life and give thanks to your Father.
Robert Louis Stevenson observed: “The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you.”
For what blessings will you offer thanks to God now?