Niagara Falls in a Tea Cup

The English language is beautiful, complicated, nuanced and valuable for communication. Over a quarter million distinct words exist in the English language according to some. And yet at times we are at a loss for words. Some situations require certain sentiments or ideas but words don’t come close to meaningfully conveying what we mean.

I am so thankful that God himself cannot be explained by our limited language. Our words can grasp some of the ideas…omnipresent, omnipotent, sovereign, loving. But we find them lacking. They are insufficient. I’m glad this is true because it means my God is bigger. He is bigger than our brains can understand, he is bigger than our language can grasp, and he is bigger than even the most skilled writer can communicate.

His love cannot be expressed by the same word we use to describe our love of corndogs or summer. His love is “other.” His love is not of this world and we are at a loss when it comes to understanding it.

I love the Brennan Manning quote:

I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a tea cup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.
— Brennan Manning


With this comparison, he gives us a glimpse of the distance between our understanding and the truth of who God really is. Our understanding is like a tea cup, but the concept is like Niagara Falls. Our understanding will never be able to grasp it completely!  No comparison.

Solomon says something similar:

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the maker of all things.
— Ecclesiastes 11:5


So do we stop trying? NO! We learn what we can. We read Scripture. We learn at the feet of our pastors and teachers. And we pray for understanding!


What concepts do you think are especially difficult to comprehend?

Kathy Erickson4 Comments