“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” –Arthur Conan Doyle
The greatest frustration of my life the past five months has been a problem in my big toes. We are packing up our things and moving internationally, we said goodbye to close friendships, put on a wedding and hosted a filming crew, and are beginning a new chapter filled with big challenges to overcome. Every one of those things has had emotions associated with them, but the most frustrating things that I have been facing personally are my crazy toes. Yep, you read that right. TOES.
It seems that no one can figure out what is wrong with them…but everyone agrees that there is definitely something wrong. We filed for insurance a couple days ago and we have spent nearly a thousand dollars on doctors’ bills and medication. I hate going to doctors. I refuse to go unless it is absolutely necessary, but for some reason in my life, whether it is Satan or just a faulty body, I have had to deal with doctors a lot. And I am done. I am SO DONE with all of this.
I shared with my prayer team this morning about a new development in my toes and I literally cried from frustration. “I just want to get on with my life,” I declared with all honesty and every emotion in my heart. My friend encouraged me to ask God what He would have to teach me through this, so I did. The only thing I heard from Him was, “It’s the little things.” Then He moved me to write.
There may not be a more true statement than this: “It’s the little things.” In life, it’s never the big things that break us or cause us to fall in love; it’s the little things. Most of us are more prepared to handle big developments because we’ve thought them through. It’s when the little frustrations come – the sarcastic comment, the ringing in the ear, or the constant dripping of the faucet that we lose our minds. I am more and more convinced that Satan rarely attacks with a battalion of demons; but rather he breaks us down slowly, little frustration by little frustration. We don’t even realize what is happening to us.
Many times we don’t feel ourselves slipping. Put a frog in a pot of boiling water, and he’ll hop out immediately. Set him in cold water and slowly warm it up, and that poor frog is toast. In the same way, it may seem like missing one day of prayer time isn’t that big of a deal. Having that one artist that isn’t the best on your iPod doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Having that one flirty conversation with that coworker isn’t that big of a deal. That little look; the small gesture…it’s nothing. We are quick to explain those things away. However, there is no such thing as an isolated big event; no such thing as a big fall out of nowhere. Every big thing is comprised of little things – small decisions that lead to big ones.
God very clearly told me at the beginning of this year that this is the year we are going to conquer fibromyalgia. 12 years of having a defeated attitude is enough. We’re going to beat this thing. That’s big, right? However, big things are filled with little things. I started an exercise program, but days afterwards what the doctors had said were pulled tendons turned into a green and yellow pussing mess. One doctor says it’s a fungal infection; another doctor says it’s gout. Now who knows? Out of all the things I expected to deal with in my life, I never expected THIS. So I went to pray, because God has to have a purpose in this. As my friend told me this morning, “It’s never JUST what is happening.” Big wars are won in the myriad of small battles. If I truly believe that God is the Redeemer that He says He is, then He can turn around what Satan has meant for evil into something good. If I believe that this truly is the year that God says we are going to beat fibromyalgia – the Goliath of my life – then I know two things to be true: 1. It’s going to happen and, 2. It’s not going to be easy and it will require faithfulness on my part as well. I can’t tell God that I will follow Him to the ends of the earth and give up in the toe infection. God, what would you have for me even in this?
The Bible says that when we are faithful with little, then God can entrust us with much. We don’t get to decide what that “little” is. “Hey, God, I can be faithful with small group leadership; but don’t give me health problems. Just give me the small leadership job and I will blow You away!” Sorry, kid. Not quite what I had in mind.
What is it that builds our character? Just like the little things can break us down, God can use the little things to grow us. James says in his book (chapter 1:2-4), “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If I was serious when I told God to form His character in me, then I should welcome things like this. Bill Johnson said once in a sermon, “If your first reaction to a problem isn’t joy, then your perspective is off.” What a challenging statement! I want to have the mind of Christ in every circumstance. I want to believe Him for every challenge, that He ultimately is forming in me something beautiful.
So I will thank Him for this little thing – because God is going to use this little thing to do a big thing in me.