Google vs God

Hanna flexing

Have you ever thought your phone is listening to you? One moment you are thinking about a product, maybe tell a friend about it, and next thing you know, it’s popped up on your Instagram feed. It’s in your Amazon suggestions. All of your ads tell you where you can buy it.

Targeted adverts can be a bit scary in that way. Sometimes it’s almost like they predict what we think. Other times they completely miss the mark. At the moment, most of my targeted adverts are around sportswear. But I’m also being advertised a lot of male bodybuilder clothing and protein powder, both of which I, a short and not very muscular woman, don’t need.

The one I find most frustrating is the amount of dieting content I’m being advertised. I like working out, not to lose weight but for the fun of it, so I follow a lot of fitness accounts online. But Google doesn’t know that’s why I enjoy the content. Google sees my age, what I like looking at, and makes the conclusion I must be looking for inspiration to get rid of body fat. And so I have found my social media full of weight loss advice, horrific workout regimes to “shed fat,” and tips on suppressing your appetite. Setting aside the damaging impact this could have on a person, it just shows that Google might have a ton of data on me but still doesn’t understand me as a person. Which, in a way, is a relief. I’d hate for Google to know me that intimately.
Being truly known is a terrifying thought, isn’t it? Which one of us would be comfortable giving people access to our thoughts? I doubt any of us would volunteer for that, which is why we find it so creepy when our phone seems to know what we want. Yet Psalm 139 frames being known by God as something positive and comforting.

“Lord, you have examined me and you know me.
2 You know everything I do;
    from far away you understand all my thoughts.
3 You see me, whether I am working or resting;
    you know all my actions.
4 Even before I speak,
    you already know what I will say.
5 You are all around me on every side;
    you protect me with your power.
6 Your knowledge of me is too deep;
    it is beyond my understanding.
God knows us better than we know ourselves, and yet he doesn’t use that to judge us. He stays with us, guides us, and protects us. Unlike Google, God doesn’t use his intimate knowledge of us to get something from us, to make us buy something. His actions towards us are selfless; he uses his knowledge of us for our own good. He knows all of our motivations for our actions, even if they confuse us at times.

God knows why I like fitness content, he sees my endless obsession with funny cat pictures, and knows that I won’t be using any of those recipes I’ve been saving for months (even if I like to convince myself I will make that pasta dish). He also knows why I might be snappy with people on some days and why I take ages to text my friends back. And yet, God gently holds my life in his hands. No matter my behaviour. Even, or maybe especially, when I’m mad at him. So as scary as being fully known and understood might feel, if that knowledge is in the right hands, there is no reason to worry.