When England’s Queen Elizabeth passed away in September 2022, thousands of soldiers were deployed to march in the funeral procession. Their individual roles must have been almost unnoticeable in the large crowd, but many saw it as the greatest honor. One soldier said it was “an opportunity to do our last duty for Her Majesty.” For him, it was not what he did, but whom he was doing it for that made it an important job.
The Levites assigned to take care of the tabernacle furnishings had a similar aim. Unlike the priests, the Gershonites, Kohathites, and Merarites were assigned seemingly mundane tasks: cleaning the furniture, lampstands, curtains, posts, tent pegs, and ropes (Numbers 3:25–26, 31, 36–37). Yet their jobs were specifically assigned by God, constituted “doing the work of the tabernacle” (v. 8), and are recorded in the Bible for posterity.
What an encouraging thought! Today, what many of us do at work, at home, or in church may seem insignificant to a world that values titles and salaries. But God sees it differently. If we work and serve for His sake—seeking excellence and for His honor, even in the smallest task—then our work is important because we’re serving our great God.
For years, John had been somewhat of an irritant at church. He was bad-tempered, demanding, and often rude. He complained constantly about not being “served” well, and about volunteers and staff not doing their job. He was, honestly, hard to love.
So when I heard that he’d been diagnosed with cancer, I found it difficult to pray for him. Memories of his harsh words and unpleasant character filled my mind. But remembering Jesus’ call to love, I was drawn to say a simple prayer for John each day. A few days later, I found myself beginning to think a bit less often about his unlikeable qualities. He must be really hurting, I thought. Perhaps he’s feeling really lost now.
Prayer, I realize, opens ourselves, our feelings, and our relationships with others to God, allowing Him to enter and bring His perspective into it all. The act of submitting our will and feelings to Him in prayer allows the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, slowly but surely. No wonder Jesus’ call to love our enemies is bound up tightly with a call to prayer: “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
I have to admit, I still struggle to think well of John. But with the Spirit’s help, I’m learning to see him through God’s eyes and heart—as a person to be forgiven and loved.
Growing up, Sean knew little about what it meant to have a family. His mother had died and his father was hardly home. He often felt lonely and abandoned. A couple who lived nearby, however, reached out to him. They took him into their home and got their children to be “big brother” and “big sister” to him, which gave him assurance that he was loved. They also took him to church, where Sean, now a confident young man, is a youth leader today.
Although this couple played such a key role in turning a young life around, what they did for Sean isn’t widely known to most people in their church family. But God knows, and I believe their faithfulness will be rewarded someday, as will those listed in the Bible’s “Hall of Faith.” Hebrews 11 starts with the big names of Scripture, but it goes on to speak of countless others we may never know, yet who “were all commended for their faith” (v. 39). And “the world,” adds the writer, “was not worthy of them” (v. 38).
Even when our deeds of kindness go unnoticed by others, God sees and knows. What we do might seem like a small thing—a kind deed or an encouraging word—but God can use it to bring glory to His name, in His time and in His way. He knows, even if others don’t.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have agreed to join Brian on a run. I was in a foreign country, and I had no idea where or how far we would go or what the terrain would be like. Plus, he was a fast runner. Would I twist an ankle trying to keep up with him? What could I do but trust Brian because he knew the way. As we started, I got even more worried. The trail was rough, winding through a thick forest on uneven ground. Thankfully, Brian kept turning around to check on me and warn me of rough patches ahead.
Perhaps this was how some of the people in Bible times felt while entering unfamiliar territory—Abraham in Canaan, the Israelites in the wilderness, and Jesus’ disciples on their mission to share the good news. They had no clue what the journey would be like, except that it would surely be tough. But they had Someone leading them who knew the way ahead. They had to trust that God would give them strength to cope and that He would take care of them. They could follow Him, because He knew exactly what lay ahead.
This assurance comforted David when he was on the run. Despite great uncertainty, he said to God: “when my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way” (Psalm 142:3). There will be times in life when we fear what lies ahead. But we know this: our God, who walks with us, knows the way.
Louise was a lively, playful girl who brought smiles to all she met. At the age of five, she tragically succumbed to a rare disease. Her sudden passing was a shock to her parents, Day Day and Peter, and to all of us who worked with them. We grieved along with them.
Yet, Day Day and Peter have found the strength to keep going. When I asked Day Day how they were coping, she said they drew strength from focusing on where Louise was—in Jesus’ loving arms. “We rejoice for our daughter whose time is up to go into eternal life,” she said. “By God’s grace and strength, we can navigate through the grief and continue to do what He has entrusted us to do.”
Day Day’s comfort is found in her confidence in the heart of God who revealed Himself in Jesus. Biblical hope is much more than mere optimism; it is an absolute certainty based on God’s promise, which He will never break. In our sadness, we can cling to this powerful truth, as Paul encouraged those grieving over departed friends: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). May this certain hope give us strength and comfort today—even in our grief.
Watching the morning crowd pour onto the train, I felt the Monday blues kick in. From the sleepy, grumpy faces of those in the jam-packed cabin, I could tell no one looked forward to going to work. Frowns broke out as some jostled for space and more tried to squeeze in. Here we go again, another mundane day at the office.
Then, it struck me that just a year before, the trains would have been empty because COVID-19 lockdowns had thrown our daily routines into disarray. We couldn’t even go out for a meal, and some actually missed going to the office. But now we were almost back to normal, and many were going back to work—as usual. “Routine,” I realized, was good news, and “boring” was a blessing!
King Solomon came to a similar conclusion after reflecting on the seeming pointlessness of daily toil (Ecclesiastes 2:17–23). At times, it appeared endless, “meaningless,” and unrewarding (v. 21). But then he realized that simply being able to eat, drink, and work each day was a blessing from God (v. 24).
When we’re deprived of routine, we can see that these simple actions are a luxury. Let’s thank God that we can eat and drink and find satisfaction in all our toil, for this is His gift (3:13).
On a run in the forest, I tried to find a shortcut and went down an unfamiliar path. Wondering if I was lost, I asked a runner coming the other way if I was on the right track.
“Yup,” he replied confidently. Seeing my doubtful look, he quickly added: “Don’t worry, I’ve tried all the wrong routes! But that’s okay, it’s all part of the run.”
What an apt description of my spiritual journey! How many times have I strayed from God, given in to temptation, and been distracted by the things of life? Yet God has forgiven me each time and helped me to move on—knowing I will certainly stumble again. God knows our tendency to go down the wrong path. But He’s always ready to forgive, again and again, if we confess our sins and allow His Spirit to transform us.
Paul too knew this was all part of the faith journey. Fully aware of his sinful past and current weaknesses, he knew he had yet to obtain the Christlike perfection he desired (Philippians 3:12). “But one thing I do,” he added, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on.” (vv. 13–14). Stumbling is part of our walk with God: it is through our mistakes that He refines us. His grace enables us to press on, as forgiven children.
Raj had trusted Jesus as Savior in his youth, but soon afterward, he drifted from the faith and led a life apart from God. Then one day, he made the decision to renew his faith in Jesus and go back to church—only to be scolded by a woman who berated him for being absent for all these years. The scolding added to Raj’s sense of shame and guilt for his years of drifting. Am I beyond hope? he wondered. Then he recalled how Jesus had restored Simon Peter even though he had denied Him (Luke 22:34, 60–61).
Whatever scolding Peter might have expected, all he received was forgiveness and restoration. Jesus didn’t even mention Peter’s denial but instead gave him a chance to reaffirm his love and take care of His followers (John 21:15–17). Jesus’ words before Peter disowned Him were being fulfilled: “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
Raj asked God for that same forgiveness and restoration, and today he is not only walking closely with Jesus but serving in a church and supporting other believers as well. No matter how far we’ve strayed from God, He’s always ready not only to forgive us and welcome us back but also to restore us so we can love, serve, and glorify Him. We’re never too far from God: His loving arms are wide open.
The offer looked good, and was exactly what Peter needed. After being laid off, this sole breadwinner of a young family had prayed desperately for a job. “Surely this is God’s answer to your prayers,” his friends suggested.
Reading about the prospective employer, however, Peter felt uneasy. The company invested in suspicious businesses and had been flagged for corruption. In the end, Peter rejected the offer, though it was painful to do so. “I believe God wants me to do the right thing,” he shared with me. “I just have to trust He will provide for me.”
Peter was reminded of the account of David meeting Saul in a cave. It seemed like he was being given the perfect opportunity to kill the man hunting him down, but David resisted. “The
Instead of always trying to look for “signs” in certain situations, let’s look to God and His truth for wisdom and guidance to discern what lies before us. He will help us do what is right in His eyes.