April 8: The Day of Small Things

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
   “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house;
   his hands shall also complete it.
Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.
   for whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice,
   and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.”
Zechariah 4:8-10

In these words from Zechariah, the prophet utters more reassuring promises to the returned exiles of Israel from Persia. He tells them that the Temple will be rebuilt, despite their fears, and that they will once again have hope in the Lord.

Apparently, some of them have been pessimistic about their future, and have “despised the day of small things.” This means that they have seen little evidence that their city will once again be prosperous, and that the Temple will actually take shape again. There areonly “small things,” tiny pieces of hope, minor efforts.

Those who care deeply about justice can identify with this pessimism. Often, when we become involved with important issues, we discover that there is seemingly little we can do, or we fear that our efforts are futile. 

We say to ourselves, “What good is it do go on yet another march? Why bother to call my Congressman again — she doesn’t listen to me?! Why write a letter to the editor of my local newspaper because I will sound like a lunatic?”

We often denigrate our own actions by calling them “small things.”

Yet our faith is full of testimony to the fact that the smallest things make the biggest difference. Jesus told us that all we needed was the faith of a mustard seed in order to move mountains.

Often the problem is that we want to move mountains first; we want to make the biggest impact first, failing to see that it takes thousands of small things to happen before big things emerge. 

We must discover a new appreciation for the small things that make for justice, and learn to encourage others who may be on the verge of disappointment.

Jesus continually modeled for us the ministry of small things. He ate dinner with folks, he played with children, he stopped to chat with people on the side of the road. He never allowed the seriousness and magnitude of his mission to override the small, everyday moments. Those moments actually became the substance of his mission. 

In the pursuit of God’s justice, there is, in fact, no small thing.

Prayer: God, forgive me for underestimating the power of my small actions. Give me the strength to keep on working for justice, even when there are no visible results. Remind me to encourage others. Amen.

Justice Challenge: Write a note, email, or letter of encouragement to someone you know who works for justice on a regular basis, who may be facing some disappointment. Remind them not to “despise the day of small things.”