Of those who groan under the weight of lifes’ little annoyances, we sometimes say, “they are making a mountain out of a molehill”. Thing is, no one ever really tripped over a mountain. But a great many people have come to ruin tripping over a molehill.
There are those who have lived through and survived great tragedy and great sorrow, and we admire them. Then there are those who go bazurk when grazed by the neighbours’ overgrown hedge, all the while reflecting on the extraordinary dignity with which they would wear a crown of thorns – if they had to.
A man may think himself capable of great self-control in the midst of starvation, yet he goes ape over imperfections in the evening meal. And while it’s true that it only takes a straw to break the camels’ back, do we get to ask which straw? Was it the last straw or the first?
So there are grumblers and then there are grumblers. There are those who groan under truly heavy loads, and then there are those who find things to groan about.
All of that said, and taking nothing away from those who bear a truly heavy load, molehills are a real problem and we should not dismiss them so easily. Indeed, it’s the very size of lifes’ little irritations that make them nasty. They are small. Like a divot in long grass, they cast no shadow as they approach the unsuspecting ankle with wicked intent.
“You are a funny animal,” the Little Prince said at last. “You are no thicker than a finger… ” “But I am more powerful than the finger of a king,” said the snake.
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Because these little annoyances are so little, we are not prepared when they cross our path. And that’s what makes them hard to bear.
“It’s the little foxes”, said Solomon, “that ruin the vineyard” (Song of Solomon 2:15). Finding rain when we want sunshine. Internet downtime, missed appointments, traffic jams and sticky jam jars. It’s finding unpunctuality when we need punctuality, un-punctuation when what we want is punctuation.
Among those sheep who spend their day straining gnats, we have no words of comfort. But for those who are stung day-after-day by a thousand tiny cuts, Jesus has great compassion.
“Fear not little flock”, said Jesus. He recognises our stature and takes compassion. He knows that we worry about bread, and water and clothing, and promises to meet us in the little things in life.
We sometimes think that heroism is only found in our battles with Goliath. But Jesus considered reigning in the tongue a pretty decent victory too. We applaud those who suffered and endured so much public humiliation and even death, for the gospel. And so we should.
But Jesus also had His eye on the mighty sparrow and the widow who quietly went about serving her children and her church in countless little ways over the span of 50 years.
Our Father knows what it is like to lose a coin, a sheep and a Son (Luke 15). And He knows how to rejoice over all of these things, large or small.
We often find ourselves energised by a major crisis and yet worn down, drained and exhausted by many small cares. We all deal with a multitude of tiny anxieties, fears, failed plans, snotty kids, interruptions and disappointments.
And Jesus invites us to bring all of these things to Him and lay them at His feet day-by-day. He also asks that we exhibit the same compassion and patience to those struggling with a similar mountain of molehills.