My heart hurts for William Shatner.  

Back in 2021, the nonagenarian was given the most thrilling opportunity to explore the “Final Frontier.” But in an article published by Variety i , he lamented that he was shocked to discover that instead of awe, wonder, and elation, he felt intense grief.  

Shatner vulnerably admitted, “It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness.”

According to the article, this is known as the “Overview Effect,” coined by Author Frank White in 1987. “Essentially, when someone travels to space and views Earth from orbit, a sense of the planet’s fragility takes hold in an ineffable, instinctive manner,” Shatner explained.

Personally, outer space has always stirred in me a sense of dread.  If God weren’t omnipresent, I could very well believe that outer space would be the one place that God wasn’t.  But the more I thought about it, the more I was struck by the tenderness and kindness of God. How God created the universe and all that is in it, and then crafted a planet so beautifully, so intimately, that man could thrive, and grow, and glorify his Creator.  To be rocketed away from such a favored environment would be akin to being cast out of God’s loving presence.  No wonder Mr. Shatner’s heart was troubled!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” So states psalmist King David (Psalm 19:1).  Mr. Shatner received a precious gift in witnessing God’s glory from a different point in space than the rest of us, and it made him grieve profoundly to think that this beautiful blue planet was planted in such harsh environment.  The fragility of earth was almost devastating to him.  

But ever the optimist, Mr. Shatner stated that he does have hope: “…we have one gift that other species perhaps do not: we are aware—not only of our insignificance, but the grandeur around us that makes us insignificant. That allows us perhaps a chance to rededicate ourselves to our planet, to each other, to life and love all around us. If we seize that chance.”

Besides the obvious and tragic humanistic worldview, there is a glaring problem – man is sinful, and for as many times throughout epochs of man trying to change himself and change others, he simply cannot.  Man is slave to sin, and therefore the only thing we will continue to love is ourselves, at the cost of the planet, others, life, and the nebulous “love all around us.”

The truth and the power to change is beyond every human being’s grasp, save the redemptive work of Jesus.  The truth frees us from grief and propels us to worship the Truth-giver.
So consider the truth of God:

  1. The earth isn’t the pinnacle of God’s creation – humans are, you and I included. (Gen. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.)
  2. The earth is being destroyed by man’s sin, not our carbon footprint. (Rom. 8:21-22 …that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time.)
  3. Jesus is Creator-God and even though the earth looks fragile, it’s being held together by our All-Powerful God! (Col. 1:17 ESV And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.)
  4. We have a choice to rebel against God, or to fall on our knees in humble submission to him.  If we do the latter, he promises to make us new! (2 Cor. 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.)
  5. Jesus will return to make all things new – including the earth. (Rev. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…)

We don’t need to “rededicate ourselves to the planet;” that’s idolatry. We need to bend our knee to the One who created it!

Like I said, I feel sad for Mr. Shatner. He sees the earth but doesn’t understand the loving hand of its Creator.  He feels grief but doesn’t understand the hope of Jesus who will make all things new. He feels hopeful in man’s awareness of insignificance but doesn’t understand that there is absolutely no hope for humankind save for Christ himself.  My prayer, for you dear reader as well as for Mr. Shatner, is that you actually take Mr. Shatner’s advice – seize the chance! Today is the day to fix your eyes on Jesus, surrender to him and worship him, not his creation.  Then, only then, will you be ready (and eager) to see your Maker face to face, in the Final Frontier.
i Shatner, W. (2022, October 10). William Shatner: My trip to space filled me with 'overwhelming sadness' (exclusive). Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from
Heather Zander is the Program Director, resident barista, and morning show host for Key Radio.  She resides in Provo, Utah with her husband Mike.

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