by David Brickner | November 01 2022
What does the saying “Thank God for small blessings” mean to you? I think it depends on the tone of voice of the person saying it. We can speak of “small blessings” with gratitude or with cynicism—a fact that literally came home to me a few months ago when my refrigerator broke down.
Over a week later, the repairman finally came to tell us that our refrigerator was beyond repair. Meanwhile, my wife and daughter had picked out a small mint-green minifridge as a temporary replacement. Thank God for small blessings! We were happy and relieved to fit a modest amount of food in our minifridge.
We soon realized, though, that replacing our refrigerator was going to take much longer than expected. As the wait grew, the blessing of our temporary fix seemed to shrink. We had to shop more frequently for much smaller quantities. Entertaining guests for meals was challenging, and leftovers became all but impossible to keep. My appreciation for the little mint-green fridge rapidly diminished. Thank God for small blessings, I muttered, rolling my eyes.
It’s embarrassing to recount this when I think about the truly horrific situations that people around the world are enduring. But I wanted to share with you something I learned, starting with that little green fridge.
I was convicted about my cynicism, and I thought about the prophet Jonah, who was so happy for the plant that grew up overnight to shade him from the blazing sun (Jonah 4:6–11). But when the worm came, and the plant died, Jonah wanted to die right along with it. God had sent the plant to bless Jonah, but He also sent the worm to show Jonah his lack of compassion for the people of Nineveh. Sometimes God uses the gain and loss of small blessings to shift our perspective and our priorities.
Disappointment over “small blessings” is nothing new. Back in the days of Zerubbabel, many were cynical about the results of all the efforts to rebuild the Temple. That Second Temple seemed to pale in comparison to the First Temple—it was quite modest compared to what Solomon built. For some, the comparison was a painful reminder of glory days long gone. The prophet Zechariah declared to those short-sighted individuals: “For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice” (Zechariah 4:10).
Though the rebuilt Temple appeared as “a small thing” to some, God wanted His people to rejoice because His favor was actually upon it. The prophet Haggai declared, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9).
Perhaps Herod had been advised of this prophecy years later when he greatly expanded the Temple compound. But if he thought he was the hero of the story, he was greatly mistaken. It was not the size of the refurbished Temple or the amount of gold accessories within it, but it was the presence of Jesus the Messiah that was “the latter glory” of that house. Jesus walked and taught there as the literal embodiment of God’s purpose for the Temple in the first place. Hallelujah! Gratitude for that reality drives us to relentlessly pursue God’s plan of salvation for the Jewish people.
Our Jews for Jesus missionaries labor long and hard to bring in a small but steady trickle of new Jewish believers in Jesus. It is easy to get discouraged if we focus on numbers. But Jesus said, “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Thank God for small blessings! And thank you, our partners in prayer and in giving, for recognizing that God has called us to faithfully present the gospel to Jewish people. One day the Lord will increase the harvest past counting. Till then, we’ll keep rejoicing with the angels for each soul.
As Thanksgiving approaches, what small things in your life might God be asking you to see in a new light? It can be challenging to remain grateful when circumstances don’t measure up to our hopes and expectations. But God works through those circumstances, inviting us to see “small things” in light of His big picture. Small blessings really do offer big opportunities. Let’s rejoice and give thanks for each one, knowing that God will use them for His greater purposes—in our lives, in this world, and in the glory of the world to come.