If we are still in the working world, we might think about that differently. Our job or career is exactly what gives us meaning, makes us feel worthwhile; someone pays wages for what we do. Those who are retired from active public life are tempted to feel exactly the opposite. We are disenchanted with the monotony and meaninglessness of our lives at home or in a retirement community. I’ve heard such friends say they live from meal to meal, from pill time to pillow time. They feel that they are “putting in their hours” – for what?
We may have played the board game “Trivial Pursuit.” Trivial means “of little value, unimportant, insignificant.” The questions and answers in the game are certainly not earth shaking. Pursuit implies “the act of chasing,” in this case, useless data. We might think, “That’s like me, but I’ve even given up chasing because there is nothing worthwhile in my life to run after.” We may wonder if our life even matters to anyone or would we be missed when we are gone. Have we made any difference by living?
Around Christmas we traditionally view the old black and white movie featuring Jimmy Stewart who played the discouraged character who grumbled, “I wish I had never been born!” His personal angel supposedly granted him his wish by transporting him back in time to see what would have happened had he never been born. Fiction, of course, but it packs a sober truth. Each of us does make a difference. God has put us into our particular circumstances, at this time in history, among the people we are to influence for His eternal purposes. What we do or don’t do on a daily, moment by moment basis is eternally significant. We look at our lives from our limited, human perspective, but God looks at the big, eternal picture.
Saint Therese of Lisieux who lived in the 1800s always insisted that it was not the splendor or the greatness of our deeds that mattered. The smallest, most trivial task we accomplish is supremely important if it is done in obedience to God’s will and for love of Him. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a spiritual writer in the 1600s declared, “To achieve the height of holiness, people must realize that all they count as trivial and worthless is what can make them holy…consider your life and you will see it consists of countless trifling actions. Yet God is quite satisfied with them….What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us.”
Jesus said that doing the smallest act like giving a cup of cold water to a little one even in the name of a disciple, would receive a reward. And that whatever we do for another is as if we did it to Him.
What a difference it would make in our daily lives if we accepted that absolutely nothing is trivial in the sight of God!