Am I Accomplishing Anything?
Many of us who work overseas sometimes ask ourselves if we are really accomplishing anything. For cultural reasons we may live without much affirmation, and there is often so much need around us that we feel the tiny drop we are contributing does very little to help.
Do not be disheartened. God has given us a wonderful story in the book of Zechariah that explains how to manage these feelings. An angel saw what a mess Jerusalem was in when the rest of the earth seemed to be doing quite well (Zechariah 1: 11 - 12). He turned to God in deep distress, and almost reproached Him for not doing anything about it. God was not angry with Him - He saw his distress, and spoke ‘kind and comforting words’ to Him (Zechariah 1: 13, one of my favourites).
These comforting words were of two kinds. First God explained that despite Jerusalem being just a heap of rubble, He was actually in control, and was preparing an act of restoration. The second kind was a visual aid. He sent a man to stand in the ruins of the city with a measuring line in his hand (Zechariah 2: 1). The first step in any building project is to do a survey to measure the site. So the use of this line indicated that rebuilding was actually going to happen.
The point is confirmed later (Zechariah 4: 10), when the plumb line is introduced. Any old-fashioned builder knows that a plumb line, a piece of string with a lead weight on it, was used to find out if the building was straight. God was assuring the Jews that a new Temple was going to arise where the old one had been! The important thing to remember is that although the plumb line was only a little thing, it had a profound meaning, and we should never, never, never forget this:
Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.(Zechariah 4: 10)This verse kept me going through 30 years of overseas missionary work, and a further twenty years caring for missionary mental health. I used to wonder if I was accomplishing anything, and would remind myself of the Zechariah principle - God never despises the day of small things, for they are done ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’ (Zechariah 4: 6).