For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:19
It wasn't so long ago the evening news told the story of a man who had hitchhiked from coast to coast.
Understandably, when rides were scarce, he ended up walking. In the interview the man was asked what was the most difficult thing he had to endure. His reply surprised the interviewer (and me). I thought he would say his greatest problem was dealing with the steep mountains or the hot sun. Not at all. Nor was it the heat of the desert or torrential rains.
What was it that bothered him most? What was the biggest difficulty he had to endure?
The man said, "It was the very small stones in my shoe."
He was right. Small things can make life bitter.
Ask any Sunday school child, "What did Jesus do for you?"
That child will almost always reply, "Jesus died on the cross to take away my sins." It is a perfectly right and proper answer. Jesus lived His life perfectly, so He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Still, if we could go to Jesus and ask, "What was the hardest part about Your suffering?" I wonder what He might reply. Would He talk about the nails that pierced hands and feet or the whip that ripped His back? That would make sense, but I wouldn't be shocked if Jesus said the nails hurt, but that was a pain that was short and quickly over.
Do you think it would be possible Jesus might say His greater suffering was "the small stones in His sandals"? Possibly Jesus would say His greatest burden was the fact throughout His life He was despised and rejected by the people who should have recognized Him, that He was railroaded to the cross by the people He had come to save.
What would Jesus say if we asked Him about His greatest disappointment today?
If He were to speak about His greatest frustration, do you think He would talk about the quickly passing persecutions of His people by non-Christian leaders, who are here today and gone tomorrow?
Or do you think He would talk about His people who, week after week and month after month, forget to give thanks for all the things He has done on their behalf?
Would He talk about the people who forget all His blessings and complain as if the meal of their lives was composed only of bitter herbs?
I wonder what Jesus would say.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, with the Spirit's help I believe I can identify and put up a fair fight against the big problems of life. It's the small ones that often defeat me. Today I pray You will keep me faithful in things both big and small. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries