esop’s famous story of the Lion and the Mouse ends with the explanation from the author that, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
This is a worthy lesson for children to learn, accords with the life and teachings of Christ, and is the “conviction of things not seen” that is often needed when benevolence does not seem to be leading to any positive change. There are clearly many moments where compassionate actions seem to be wasted. Perhaps thousands of dollars are donated to help someone recover from a painful disease, only to have the patient die tragically a few days later; or a social worker spends months working to get a drug addict clean and off the streets, only to have the person quit their new job a few days later so that they could return to homelessness and the habitual use of the needle. There are thousands of these situations going on every day. But it is the Christian hope that the wisdom of God can weave all the positive strands of history together—including each small act of kindness and self-sacrifice, every good deed done in secret—to ensure that, when everything concerning this age is said and done, nothing born of love is wasted.
And yet, in the popular theology of hell, how many acts of kindness—whether small or actually quite large—are ultimately pointless as both the one who acted kindly and the one who received the kindness suffer forever in unending and torturous flames? In the all-too-common creed, many Jewish prisoners who made sacrifices of varying degrees during the holocaust, from giving away a portion of their miniscule meal to a fellow starving captive… all the way to dying in someone’s stead, are suffering endlessly with no opportunity for peace. So many wasted acts of kindness that were simply microscopic comforts on the road to eternal misery! In some of these familiar descriptions of the Creator, preached in many churches, God can do whatever he damn well pleases, and he is well pleased by damning many.
Praise the Lord it isn’t so.
From long before history began to be written down in various languages, there has been much tribulation in the world. And long, long before that, there was the one who has overcome the world. He has designed the universe in such a way that positive things have a lasting impact (even if that effect is currently invisible to most, if not all, people), and even the tragedies and sins in the cosmos can be used in various ways to bring about holy ends—without those original wicked works ever being caused or endorsed by God. Every “minor” action leading to more light and more love in the world will be enfolded into the larger work of God as his Kingdom comes on earth, as it is in heaven. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” even here and even now, and someday the entire population of the cosmos will look out on the expanse of the universe and see that love has covered every sin there ever was.
“Good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.”
The pierced hand is upholding the earth carefully—grasping it firmly enough to keep its structure, but not so tightly as to crush the thing—working masterfully on the rough and vicious edges of the planet to reform it away from the tendencies of self-consumption. We are indeed helpless, hapless, and hopeless without the Spirit’s work in the world. But the work is always present, and despite the wretched hate sometimes blatantly promulgated, the darkness marketed as light, and the principalities and powers putting on quite a show in our world, it is a deep comfort to know that the universe is ultimately cross-shaped and built by, for, on, and with Love.
How great it is to be part of an epic story unfolding now, where every choice in the right direction really counts for something, while all the while knowing how truly wonderful the ending will be.
He who “has made everything beautiful in its time” will ensure that each beautiful thing (whether it is a kind gesture, a gorgeous work of art, or even simply a brief thought bent heavenward) has its place in the Kingdom of God.
No good thing, no matter how little, will ever be lost to history as something futile and forgotten. The mind of God can hold it all, use it all, and bless it all. Amen.