Today, our world is big. In the political arena, we focus on big stories dealing with people whose actions have enormous impact on our lives. Entertainment news tells us which movies, with big name stars, brought in the most money over important weekends. In business, we hear about gigantic organizations who make billions of dollars, like Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet. Big stories thrill the media, until the next huge story comes along about two days later.
But most of us go through life doing small things.
Sometimes, after reading of big people doing impressive things, I get discouraged. What am I doing? Who cares? Does it matter?
Yes, it matters, and God cares about all the small things that we are doing. I found encouragement in the book of Zechariah, of all places.
Zechariah was written when the Jews returned to Jerusalem, in about 520 BC, after Jerusalem had been trashed and they had been taken into exile in Babylon. The Jews planned to rebuild the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel, who was governor and a descendant of the former king of Judah. When they started rebuilding, facing external opposition and their own apathy, it probably looked like it would never happen.
Zechariah, a prophet who was writing at that time, said that the word of the Lord came to him:
“Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it…Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:9-10 NLT) The NIV translation put is this way, “Who dares despise the day of small things?”
It was a very small beginning, but God was saying that the temple would eventually be finished. God’s purpose would press forward, and he rejoiced to see the work begin.
Most of us spend our days doing small things, and I believe God delights when we do them out of obedience. Who knows what he has planned for the outcome of our collective small efforts?
To the parents of small children, God says, “Do not despise these small beginnings,” for he has plans for those children.
To the individual going to work each day who is wondering what difference he or she makes, God says, “Who dares despise the day of small things?” God has a good purpose for all work done to the glory of God.
To the man or woman who is looking for work, God says, “Do not despise these small beginnings,” for he is in your search.
To the pastor of a small church, who compares his work to mega-church leaders, God says, “Who dares despise the day of small things?” God has a completely different view of success, and the faithful pastors of small churches are doing important work.
To the individual who fights depression, and who is happy if he or she simply gets through the day, God says, “Do not despise these small beginnings,” for in them we have hope.
To people who are wondering if their ideas, plans or projects will ever get off the ground, God says, “Do not despise these small beginnings.” Whether they succeed or not, God is in them and has a purpose for them.
Who dares despise the day of small things?
The temple was rebuilt back in Zerubbabel’s day, but God’s plan was far from finished. It was just the next step. The people who were discouraged at the small beginning had no idea what would happen 500 years later, when Jesus would come and everything would change. Jesus’s disciples had no idea that Jesus would die and be raised again offering new life to everyone who believes in him. And we have no idea what our small things, small beginnings, will accomplish in God’s hands.
The world gives its attention to the big events, powerful people, and successful businesses, but God does his work through his people who faithfully do small things in his name.
Be encouraged, and do not despise small beginnings.