Depending on your perspective, this might be called "the year of small things."
We're so used to counting nickels and noses as sure signs of God's blessing and handiwork that when those signs are absent, we conclude that God's hand of blessing was absent too.
Obscure, Tucked-Away Verses
But there are a couple of obscure passages of Scripture tucked in the Old Testament that apply to this past year and have been a source of encouragement for me. I hope they will be for you as well.
Zechariah 4 and Haggai 2 speak of a situation in which God's people were discouraged because it appeared to them that little if anything of any significance were happening in their corporate life. A small remnant of Israel had returned from captivity in Babylon and was given by God the commission to rebuild Jerusalem's city walls and the Temple.
But the temple they were rebuilding seemed like nothing compared to the one they previously experienced. It wasn't as big or as magnificent and they certainly didn't have the budget, the manpower or the influence they had experienced in past years.
However, they had what God had chosen to give them at that time in their history, and God called them to faithfully and enthusiastically complete the task.
Are Small Things a Sign of God's Blessings?
In Zechariah 4:10 God asks them,
"Who has despised the day of small things?"
Some were upset and even detesting where they were in the providence of God's dealings. They made the assumption that bigger and more beautiful were a sign of God's calling and blessing.
In Haggai 2:3 we see the same thing in a little different perspective and God asks them, "Does it seem to you like nothing?" He knew the discouragement in their hearts. Therefore, three times God tells them something that they needed to hear.
We need to hear it too, "Be strong…and work for I am with you" (2:4).
A Time to Plant&a Time to Harvest
In 19 years of pastoral ministry, I have learned a thing or two regarding the ebb and flow - the ups and downs - of work in the local church. Like farming, there are definite seasons we experience as were involved in God's work in ministry.
Solomon said it this way, "There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven…a time to plant and a time to harvest" (Eccl. 3:1, 2).
Seasons in Church Ministry
There are definite seasons in church ministry - Spring, Summer, Fall, and yes, even Winter. Winter can be a discouraging season - especially a long one with bareness, emptiness, inactivity, etc. Paul said it this way,
"Let us not become weary in going good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers" (Gal. 6:9-10).
In the winter of ministry what we do for God may seem small and insignificant to us. But God rejoices in what is done right and what is done faithfully.
Be Faithful with what God Gives You
John the Baptist made a profound observation about ministry:
"A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to Him from heaven" (John 3:27).
Let's continue to be faithful in the things God does have for us right now. Let's not concentrate on what God is no longer doing here, but, on what He IS doing, what He HAS given us to do and on what we CAN do well to His glory.
Let's continue to faithfully serve God where we are with what we do have, trust Him, and leave the results to Him.
"Be strong and work for I am with you!" (Haggai 2:4).
An epistle from a pastor…