“Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine…”
This line from the post-Communion prayers — a paraphrase of Ephesians 3.20 — has always been one of my favorites. Its promises inspired me as a young child in Yukon, and it was still able to reach a part of me when I was a surly and depressed teenager in rural Alberta. It’s a beautiful sentiment. But if I’m honest, most of the time, it doesn’t feel like God’s power working in me is doing “infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” Most of the time it feels like it’s not doing much of anything. But, as I was reminded this morning in my Scripture reading, that doesn’t mean it’s doing nothing.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth and the townspeople have a hard time seeing anything in him but the boy they once knew. Jesus finds he can’t do much amidst their mockery and disbelief and goes on his way, shaking his head. But what the text says is:
“Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.”
That’s a very big and important “except that.” Even as he marveled at how little good he could do in Nazareth, he was still able to heal “a few sick people.” I’m sure that this was nothing short of life-changing for them. Even in a situation where Jesus felt impotent and discouraged, God was still at work.
This is a good reminder. Often in life and ministry we don’t get much encouragement. The criticism stings more than the affirmation soothes. Our words seem too hollow to be effective. The pain of those around us seems greater than the help we can offer. But even when it feels like nothing is happening, God is still at work in and through us, and God’s power working in us can still do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. And our efforts, as weak and hollow as they may feel, are still doing more than we know.