The Truth About My Inadequacies: A Lesson from the Bible

Through my daily Bible reading plan that walks me through the writings in a (mostly) chronological order, I’m almost at the end of the Old Testament. I’ve made my way through the Garden of Eden, the stories of the patriarchs, the Jews being delivered from slavery in Egypt and making their way to the promised land.

I’ve made my way through the establishment of King David over the tribes, his son, Solomon, building the Temple, then the splitting of the tribes into two kingdoms and the messages from the prophets pleading with the people to turn back to worshiping the Lord instead of gods and idols made by human hands.

I’ve made my way through the people turning their backs on those messages and consequently getting attacked, overthrown and exiled to foreign lands as a means for their hearts to be softened toward God. And then, the Lord, filled with mercy, brings them back home.

It’s here that I am now.

Many of the Israelites who were once captives in Babylon are now back in Jerusalem, reestablishing their lives. When they first arrived, they started immediately to rebuild the Temple, which had been destroyed during the Babylonian siege on the city. With the town in ruins around them, they built an altar and began the routine of worshiping God again.

As they made progress with the Temple, though, some of the older Israelites were discouraged as they looked at the new building that was being erected and remembered how ornate the original Temple built by Solomon was. It says that they “wept aloud.” The younger ones, though, had nothing to compare the building with, so they were filled with joy. “The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud commotion that could be heard far in the distance.” (Ezra 3:12-13)

But the Lord has a message for these workers, which struck me as so beautiful. He sends the prophet Haggai to them, saying, “Take courage,” to each of the leaders and then to the people. He repeats this refrain and then says, “Take courage and work, for I am with you, says the LORD Almighty.”

God continues this message of encouragement by telling the people that although this Temple may not have the splendor of the old one, “I will fill this place with glory … The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD Almighty. And in this place I will bring peace.”

The people here were saddened by the inadequacy of what they were building. They wanted it to be more—more beautiful, more grand, more worthy of being the Lord’s house. But the Lord steps in and reminds them that that isn’t what this is all about. It isn’t about the grandeur of how it appears, but about the grandeur of the Lord himself.

God was not concerned with the inadequacies of their work at all. He just wanted them to be doing the work! “Take heart and finish the task!” he says in Zechariah 8:9, and a few chapters earlier, he says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” He would do the rest, and that was all that mattered. In fact, even though the place may look inadequate from the outside, God will make it more glorious than the building that was gilded in gold!

This resonated with me, as I often struggle with feeling that what I’m doing to serve God is inadequate. I feel like I’m not doing enough, especially in comparison with others. But the truth is that anything we will do is going to be inadequate, even with all the gold and silver in the world. Really all we ought to focus on is doing what we’re capable of and letting God do the rest. He is the only one who can bring true glory to the work of our hands.

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  1. I enjoyed this post and am thinking of reading through like this too.

  2. Thanks, Tamara! I would highly recommend it, at least for reading through the prophets and before/after the exile. It really helped me piece together all the different perspectives and get a fuller appreciation for what was taking place.

  3. Amazing!- “The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud commotion that could be heard far in the distance.” (Ezra 3:12-13).

    I love to see God's perspective on things- it seems to always be so different from our own...He just wants our obedience. Love it!

  4. So true, Jennifer! I find myself more surprised than not at how different--and REFRESHING!--God's perspective is on so many things. That's the lovely thing about grace :)

  5. This is really encouragement to me. I was just rejected for a job I really wanted - back in the city where my boyfriend lives - this morning. But, God is with me. And his plan is big and great. Even though it doesn't look like my plan - just like the old guys thought the old temple was better than the work God was doing.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Aw, I'm sorry to hear that Brittany :( I know the disappointment of not getting a job pretty well, myself. I'm glad to hear, however, that this post helped encourage you in this time as you wait and see. My experience has always been that in hindsight, I'm always so, so happy with how God ended up working those things out. Unfortunately, that only comes with time! I hope you are able to find a new job that is the PERFECT fit!

  7. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”

    Wow. Talk about a word straight to my heart. I constantly battle with not even wanting to START if I feel inadequate to do anything big. Thank you for sharing, and know that the Lord is using you to speak to even complete strangers!


  8. Aw, I'm so glad to hear that, Megan! That verse touched my heart, too, so I'm so glad to be able to share it with others and it fit where they are in their lives, too! Thanks so much for taking he time to leave your comment and let me know; I appreciate the encouragement to keep writing posts like this one :)

  9. Oh, that last paragraph is very me. I often battle the thought that I'm not doing anything that matters... that I should be doing more... that my current place isn't enough. It's not always a bad things-- sometimes there IS that something more just around the corner. Still, the realization that He has me HERE for a reason... that's a powerful and beautiful thing. When I was younger, I babysat and remember one day thinking, "God, what is the point? How does this matter at all?" And when I got to the house that day, the woman I was babysitting for looked me right in the eye and said "You have *no idea* how much of a blessing it is that you're doing this for us." And just like that, He showed me that even those little things matter. I've never forgotten that moment.

  10. Kristin, I love the babysitting story! That is such a perfect answer to the fact that God's perspective is so much larger than our own and we have no idea how the littlest of things (like a mustard seed!) can make SUCH an impact. Beautiful.

  11. Proverbs 16:3
    Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

    1 Corinthians 10:31
    So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

    I have the same struggle. Rest in these scriptures :)


  12. I love this post. And this perspective. Thank you for sharing, I definitely needed to be reminded of this as I trudge through this homework... and life in general! :)

  13. What a great story-love it!If I am struggling with a particularly boring job or a job I am not looking forward to doing for some reason,I always remember(and please excuse my ignorance in not knowing from where this comes in the Bible-am just a beginner here!)"Do everything as unto the Lord..."Works for me every day of my life and in every situation.


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