There’s a question I’ve been chewing on for quite some time. I can’t get it out of my head. It goes like this:
What if the display of God’s power in our lives is directly related to acknowledging our need for Him?
In the midst of personal crisis, national unrest, or a global pandemic, people ask, “Where is God?” Here’s what I’m coming to believe more than ever: He’s in our need. He’s in our lack. He’s present and powerful when we’re ready to admit how desperate we are without Him.
The end of our rope is the beginning of God’s grace. This is true in our individual circumstances and in our desire to make this world a better place. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
I can’t help but think of the famous story of how God used one small stone to create mighty waves of change. I’m thinking of the rock that took down a mighty giant. Goliath was the nearly ten-foot-tall Philistine warrior who threatened to destroy the Israelite army. Day after day, for forty days, Goliath came forward and challenged any man from the opposing side who had enough guts to face him. The future of both nations rested on this single man-to-man battle. Whichever side was victorious would get their enemy’s land, wealth, and surviving citizens. Saul was king of Israel at the time, and not one soldier in his mighty legion was willing to fight such a powerful opponent with everything on the line.
The Israelites were woefully aware of their insufficiency, but they failed to understand that God’s power was what they really needed. Enter David. David was a young shepherd and the youngest of eight sons; his father sent him to the battlefield to bring provisions to his brothers. When David got to the front lines and heard about the dire situation his people faced, he didn’t hesitate to offer his help.
What made the young shepherd willing to face an opponent that hundreds of grown men trained in combat wouldn’t? Was it because David was simply conceited like his older brother suggested? Did he think so highly of himself that he believed he could accomplish what no one else could? I don’t think so.
David’s uncanny courage came from knowing that it would be God’s power that would defeat the giant. And he was willing to be the conduit. Without a breastplate or sword or spear, David approached Goliath with nothing but a sling and pouch full of river rocks. He took one smooth stone, placed it in his sling, and let it soar. The rock sank into the Philistine’s forehead, taking down the ostensibly unconquerable soldier.
A sheep-tending little brother stood victorious on the battlefield, showing God’s undeniable power.
So what does an old Bible story that reads more like a mythic fairy tale have to do with us? While it’s unlikely that you or I will ever be asked to save a nation by slaying an epic giant, we each are destined to face opportunities to help when the odds are stacked against us. Surely we will see someone in need and look down at our own measly stones and be tempted to think, It’s impossible for someone like me to make a difference.
The right response is, Yeah, it is impossible — without God. But with God, all things are possible.
David wasn’t responsible for the outcome. He was responsible for hearing God, responding in faith, and showing up. An entire nation of people was changed because of it.
We offer our pebble. God’s power magnifies the ripples. He accomplishes with a simple stone what we cannot do on our own.
Isn’t this just the very message that we all need right now? When the world’s problems loom large and your ordinary life stretches you thin, is it still possible to be a difference-maker? Absolutely! One small, intentional, extravagant act of kindness at a time. Our newest (in)courage book, The Simple Difference, by Becky Keife, is now available wherever books are sold — find direct links to retailers here.
And what would a day of celebration be without a big fun giveaway?!
To celebrate the release of The Simple Difference, we’re giving away a kindness gift bundle!* Just leave a comment telling us about a way you’ve experienced kindness, and you’ll be entered to win a bundle that includes:
- a copy of The Simple Difference: How Every Small Kindness Makes a Big Impact
- a copy of Courageous Kindness: Live the Simple Difference Right Where You Are (the companion Bible Study to The Simple Difference!)
- one Kind Heart Stoneware Mug
- one Cultivate Kindness Market Jute Totebag
Friends, this book? It’s for you, in the same story-sharing way (in)courage is for you. The Simple Difference: How Every Small Kindness Makes a Big Impact will help you see more of the people in front of you, more of God’s lavish love for you, and more of His power within you. We’re thrilled that this new book is finally able to be in your hands.
Order your copy of The Simple Difference today, and join author Becky Keife tomorrow, October 6 at 11am Central, on Facebook for a conversation with (in)courage team member Anna E. Rendell as they discuss The Simple Difference!
Ruth Mills says
So often in my circles of friends, co-workers & sphere of influence I am the least noticed of all around me. Yet God can use me, the smallest pebble in the arena, to accomplish His intent. He can be & is magnified in my small pebble-ness amongst the larger stones & boulders around me. It really is all about His work in & thru us! Thanks for reminding me of that this morning! Blessings!
This is what St Teresa of Calcutta shared when she spoke of being a little pencil in God’s hands. Ruth, your beautiful name speaks much of your mission. I celebrate God making you.
Ruth Mills says
Thank you for your kind words. Be blessed as you are a blessing!
Becky Keife says
Ruth, your presence matters. Your kindness is powerful. I’m so glad you are you! Thanks for being here.
My father unexpectedly passed away September 3, while I was walking through a cancer diagnosis with my mother and preparing for her double mastectomy. My small circle of friends prayed for and with me continually.
Ruth Mills says
Angela, may you know the depth of God’s love & sustaining power in each of your moments as you walk this hard hard path. Thankful He has given you praying friends & I am adding my voice to their chorus for you & your family.
Becky Keife says
Angela, I’m so sorry for your loss. Praising God with you for the kindness of friends who pray.
Beth Williams says
Sweet sister–praying for you during this super hard time in your family’s life. May God send His peace & comfort to you all now. Asking God to send strength to your weary soul as you carry on. You are a mighty pebble for your family. Know that I am praying for you now.
Please comfort Angela & her family. They are enduring a lot of pain & grief. Be with her mom as she has her double mastectomy. Guide the surgeons hands & bring about a good outcome. Help the family prepare for a funeral. Shower them with love & comfort now & always. Give Angela strength to endure these trials you have given her. Help her to know she is never alone. Mostly God send some loving friends to help her .AMEN
Sarah VT says
For some reason, this reading made me imagine David differently then before. I think, in my head, he always looked like the little drawings in kids’ Bibles but today I envisioned him in real life. And, as a mom, thought of him as if he were my son…that hit home!!
Acts of kindness recently have come from the kids I work with in an elementary school office. Last week a 4th grader gave me a handmade thank you card (she had made one for every teacher and office staff and support staff), a 3rd grader telling his mom and grandma that he likes the office because I spoil him, and multiple kids who just stop in to say hi or get a hug. ♥️
Becky Keife says
Oh I love that, Sarah! In The Simple Difference, I wrote a chapter called Unexpected Teachers and it’s all about how kids have such a beautiful capacity for kindness. We can learn so much from them!
I am so fortunate to live in a family and community that practices kindness daily! Possibly the way kindness is most displayed to me is how my husband, the students I teach, and my friends have patience with me and my unorganized ways! Kindness is always around me if I will just look for it and notice what others are doing. In a world that is screaming with meanness the kindness is there—may God give us eyes to see it and to return it, not just to the ones that are kind to us, but especially to those who are not! Thank you for reminding us that kindness is a contagious choice and we only have to look to Jesus and He will show us how to offer our pebbles of kindness to our world.
When I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor and needed surgery friends and friends of friends came together to provide a meal train for me and my family. Kindness personified in the surest way.
Becky Keife says
The kindness of a meal can never be underestimated! I had hip surgery two weeks ago and I have been feeling so blessed by friends who are showing up with dinner too!
I hope your health is doing well now!
I recently fell and fractured my hip. I’ve never experienced such pain. My surgery took hours. It will take months of rehab. I’ve been overwhelmed by my community. They started a meal train. Someone brings a complete meal every day. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of people. God is so good. And so are people.
Linda Sprunt says
Thank you, Becky. I just read a quote by Corrie ten Boom yesterday which totally concurs with what the Lord has shown you. “You may never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”
Becky Keife says
Corrie Ten Boom is my favorite! Such a wide and courageously kind woman with an incredible legacy.
I am blessed with a prayer partner and friend who makes me feel seen, heard and that I matter, a true blessing.
when my husband and I were separated, I hadn’t shared with many. two lovely church friends came up to me and said they noticed that my husband wasn’t in church with me for a while. They said they loved me, cared about me and wanted to be there for me. I felt so loved and seen. I just cried, thanked them and gave thanks to God for sending them
I recently cracked a rib and fractured my thumb. My daughter and her boyfriend came over weekly while I was healing to change my sheets and make my bed, take me to the market and push the cart, open bottle caps, etc. Simple acts but for me it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve always been the caregiver and to have someone else, especially my daughter do these things was humbling. If more people are the recipients of kindness, I wonder what the world would look like?
Cheryl G says
The most touching act of kindness I have witnessed is when my mom had a seizure in our local grocery store. While we were waiting for paramedics, two “angels” came to us and asked if they could pray over my mom. While they prayed, I saw a calm in my mom’s face. I call these two prayer warriors angels as I do not know from where they came and I didn’t see them again after the paramedics arrived. After many months, my mom recovered from the seizure and is living a full life. I will never forget the kindness and care the two women gave us in our time of spiritual and emotional need.
I was literally just thinking this lately feeling overwhelmed trying to keep afloat in all my various roles. It is so vastly important to see our presence in the world as God sees us. And how exciting it is to see him @ work! I would love to carry this message to others around me thru sharing this book.
And also I wanted to add… 🙂 my boss (pretty much weekly) leaves all of us a small lil’ gift on our desk for whatever National Day might need celebrating that day! She is always thinking of ways to show her appreciation of us. A definite “ripple” has occurred as she sets the “atmosphere of appreciation” in our lil’ tutoring place.
Tara Gaede says
These beautiful words have brought such clarity about my situation and my walk with Jesus. Thank you for this word this morning.
My granddaughter agreed to move away from her immediate family to come and stay at her great-grandmother’s house and care for her.
Years ago when my boys were 5, 7 and 10, my husband left. I was a stay at home mom, so I had no income other than child support at the time. When Christmas came that year, a few moms from one of my sons little league baseball team got together and gave us Christmas. I woke up one morning to presents for the boys on our porch as well as food for Christmas dinner.
As a single parent, it was sometimes hard to make ends meet. One Christmas season many years ago, some sweet anonymous person sent me $200 dollars in cash to use for Christmas that year. It is people like that who are truly blessings to others in need.
Deb Gurganus says
I have been shown kindness by my local church on numerous occasions but there are 2 examples that stand out: The day my family moved into the church parsonage, the church was there forming a line to help move boxes and furniture inside. They also helped set up the entire house. All I had to do was “supervise”. That evening, supper was brought in as well as breakfast the next day. That was the easiest move ever! The second time was during Thanksgiving. My mother was staying with me at the time and was battling cancer. Hospice had come in and the family was all together literally waiting for her to be called to her heavenly home. No one remembered that it was Thanksgiving but our church did. They prepared a Thanksgiving feast and fed us at our home so that we could celebrate this special holiday together. It was a very thoughtful and a kind thing to do for an entire family when they could have been at their own homes having Thanksgiving with their families. Their kindness helped us in more ways that you can imagine.
Donna C Ahlberg says
Simple acts of kindness should be everyday, but often they may be far between or we miss them. The simple acts were so abundant when my husband died and the comfort I received wrapped me in grace. My church family and friends never faltered or left me behind, always there for my needs…physical, spiritual, emotional. I never had to face any obstacle by myself, God and his Angels were with me
The simple ways a friend will reach out always strike me the most. I was away caring for my parents for two Sundays and my friend asked if everything was OK because she hadn’t seen me at church. About 10 years ago, when my kids were 18 months and 4, they came down with hand foot mouth. I was away at a conference in Minneapolis. I desperately called my friend to come care for my children while I found a way to fly home so my husband could work. The selfless acts of others humble me and inspire me. The reminders in the comments and Becky’s reminders are valuable…you don’t have to do anything big…holding the door for someone may just make their day.
Laura R says
If I remain in the present moment, I see small acts of kindness daily. However, I was recently ill and seeing my 6 and 9 year old children dust, sweep, and wipe down the kitchen without being asked warmed my heart. They also brought me water and tucked me in while resting. Parenting is hard and we often question if we’re doing enough of the right things. This small action by my children encouraged me as a Mom and a person.
Sharon A says
I have had so many kindnesses come my way and without a doubt I always know they are from God. We need kindness now more than ever! Thanks for this reminder. I want to send out more ripples with my pebble.
Yvonne Benavides says
In my early thirties, I found myself raising two little girls on my own. Every Sunday I made it a point to go have lunch with them after church. I didn’t have a lot of money but I was going to figure out how I’d get money for gas. They were little so they didn’t eat much.
I still remember we were sitting at a restaurant and a group of ladies told the waiter that they would like to pay for our meal. My oldest was old enough to understand and she still remembers.
Finances are very tight for me. I go out to lunch each Sunday with two elderly ladies from church who are much older than me, but they listen to me and cheer me on in life. During the past two Sundays, one of the ladies has paid for my lunch without me asking her to. She does this when I ask but I have determined to pay for my own and ask my parents for help if need be. Even though we are gone almost all afternoon, they have proven to be good, dear friends to me. There are many instances to recall since my divorce, but this is the most recent instance that I can remember. Thank you for another opportunity to win!
My mother died one month ago. Since then I’ve received multiple expressions of concern and sympathy from family and friends such as flowers, cards, emails, books, hugs, and prayers. They will never know how much this means – especially as days move on and I’m still working through my grief.
This is exactly the message I needed to hear today. It’s so easy to feel hopeless given our current world situation. Your comments have strengthened me and reminded me that though I am but a single pebble, God’s infinite power make all things possible, He remains in control of every situation. Thank you for your encouragement!
Yesterday everyone I encountered was kind to me, from the lady who helped me get the produce bag open to a kind lady on the bus. It made me feel good. I’m grateful for the people God places in our lives for certain times.
Maura Michael says
Not to seem trite or come across as clique, but I see kindness given to me everyday by our Father. He gives me his warm embrace through the hugs from my husband. He gives me joy each time I see my daughter. He gives me a light through the bright smile of my granddaughter. He shows me his provision through all the people who show up and work hard each day in my community. For years now I have taken time at the end of my day to write down even just one act of grace and kindness I witness. It’s everywhere if we just take the time to look.
ReNee Finneman says
My husband and I decided to start and go on a pastoral journey to meet our favorite pastors and try to get our picture taken with them for our journal. We went to Matt Chandlers church and this wonderful couple in the greeters section went out of their way to make sure we got to personally meet him. That was such a huge act of kindness on their part to make sure we got to meet Matt Chandler and they took our picture for our journal. We drove from Colorado to Texas to have this wonderful experience and it makes us smile every time we think of it. This couple was friendly, generous and so considerate towards us. We won’t ever forget their act of kindness.
Lana St John says
My aunt told me about incourage a few weeks ago and it has really blessed me. Thank you for what all of you do!
A kindness I experienced this year was an evening after I had been verbally attacked by some people from my church. My friend and two of my sisters made supper for me spent the evening with me and just generally rallied around me with love.
sharron giroux says
we have an opportunity each day to be kind in many situations. I have given money, sat with someone needing an ear, made phone calls giving encouragement.
Embracing the simple things: hugs & “I love you” from my kids when they leave the house; smiles, hellos and how are you from passing strangers; friends thinking of me for various reasons
Susan Josephson says
I have a very kind neighbor who comes each and every week to my home to take my trash bins all the way down my steep, long driveway to be emptied the next day by the trash company, an act I’m no longer able to do. And he faithfully, kindly returns each and every next day to bring the bins all the way back up the driveway for me. His kindness shines brightly, regularly by this simple act. I am so very thankful for him and his kindness!
This book comes at a perfect time. I am starting to see and trying to see the little kindnesses that people do and have done in my life and the impact they make. From the neighbor who always watches over my house to my sisters who call when I need them,To the people in the neighborhood garden that share their produce, there has been evidence of kindness. I am now trying to do my little bit like Saint Therese de Lisieux and Mother Teresa did.
Experienced kindness when friends just sat with me in the pain after another miscarriage.
We often do not realize how the smallest kindness can leave a long-lasting impression. Several years ago my husband fell down the steps. It was a long ordeal, hospitalizations, two craniotomy surgeries, rehab, and recovery. After nine or ten months, he returned to work part-time, but just four or five months later, he was back in the hospital with another life-threatening issue. On the way to the hospital, someone in authority over my husband called and was pushing me to do something that I knew he would not want, which I expressed and refuse to do. Afterwards, I called my best friend in tears and was talking to her from my car in the parking lot. I heard a knock on my car window, rolled it down a little wondering what this stranger wanted. She handed me a small box of Kleenex and said, I think you need this more than I do and walked away. I don’t know who she was or even if she is a born-again Christian, but three years later, it still is such a precious memory to me. May we always try to be that kind stranger, a good Samaritan, to a world filled with hurting people.
I have been completely discouraged, disgruntled, despondent, and disgusted with people, with life, with the world. Yes, I suffer from depression, but it is now more than that, bigger than that, heavier and more profound than that. I am having a hard time holding onto my faith, as each day seems to bring more reasons to lose hope. Today, I received a most unexpected gesture of kindness that lifted my spirits. I am grateful for that on many levels, but the first thing that comes to my mind is this: someone prayed for me, and God in His Goodness, responded by prompting this generous act. Thank you, Jesus. I SO needed this.
My entire family of 8 got Covid in August. My husband was very sick at home and I was admitted into the hospital with Covid pneumonia. For two solid weeks friends and acquaintances brought dinners and snacks and filled our freezer full with frozen meals. I didn’t haven’t to worry about meals for a while after I got home. I am still so humbled by their kindness. Our family was well taken care of and loved when we couldn’t take care of ourselves.
Brenda Koinis says
I found out I was sick days before a big trip. I spoke to an airline employee from the other side of the world who took the time to pray with me, encourage me, and even sing a hymn to me as he arranged my travel changes!
Elaine Pool says
A friend from church took the time to encourage me when I desperately needed it; she was specific to my need, RIGHT when I needed it. Incredible kindness I wasn’t looking for – all God!!!
I have experienced kindness from a friend who is more an extrovert, whereas, I am an introvert. She gives me my space and really does not take it personally when I am not up for togetherness or big plans. I think it is very kind. This book and Bible study really sound amazing! I look forward to both of them!!
Amy Harper says
Once when my husband was out of a job there was a Women’s Ministry Event at my church. My friend knew I would not be able to go. She offered to pay for my ticket and we rode together. I really enjoyed the event but it was made so much sweeter because of her kindness.
Catherine Clement says
I have an affinity for picking up stones as a physical act of being in the “Sacrament of the Present Moment.” I put them in my pocket and carry them with me throughout the day. In the evening, I place them in a pretty jar and call it my Remembrance of the Day Jar. This jar serves as a way to reflect on the blessings that are right before me on a daily basis. I think I will now think of it as my Make A Difference jar.
A lady at Walmart paid for my whole cart when my card wouldn’t go through. They didn’t have an atm and I had a hard time letting her do it and tried to get her address to repay her, but she said she needed to listen to God and wouldn’t be okay if she didn’t. It was during all the riots and I was struggling with where were all the good people at. A guy behind us walked off and rolled his eyes. I still felt bad in accepting it but know God took care of me that day and have prayed for her numerous times for God to bless her back. I couldn’t believe it and I asked the cashier if it would be okay and if that had ever happened and he said he had never seen anyone do that. Maybe someone else needed to see God’s goodness that day not just me. It was a blessing.
B Lang says
In my office I always try to welcome the new employees with open arms. During COVID that was really hard. But a new employee has consistently reached out to me for help and I of course help. But just recently I found out he has nominated me for an award. The simple gesture of taking the time to provide a write up sends me over the moon. I truly feel appreciated and encouraged to help others.
Wendy R. says
I like to play giveaways. I usually pay them forward most of the time. It’s nice when other’s see your kindness and do the same. I have had strangers win me items just because of my kindness. It feels nice to help others & share with them. As it is to receive, thank you.
Sherry Chatham says
I was truly blessed when after being in a coma, I had lost the ability to swallow or move. I was needing to do speech therapy exercises to try to regain the use of muscles to swallow. Since I could not do the exercises needed with out the use of my arms & hands, a friend came daily to the hospital & assisted me! God blessed me & helped me learn a different way to swallow so I could eat & drink again, so the feeding tube could be removed! Over the months following, God strengthened me in PT & OT & I was able to walk & move again, so I could go home. Without my friends assistance in the beginning I might not have. God provided a loving sister-in-Christ to come along side & share her self & her kindness & time with me, & God used her to turn my situation into a miracle to bring Him glory! Thank you for your ministry sharing Christ & His LOVE! Love & prayers, Sherry Chatham
Sherry Chatham says
When I was recovering from being in a coma due to heart failure. I could not do the Speech Therapy exercises without assistance, because I could not move my arms & hands. A loving kind friend came daily to the hospital & assisted me & God helped me regain the ability to swallow so I could eat & drink & the feeding tube could be removed. God continued to strengthen me in Physical & Occupational therapy to regain the ability to move & walk so I could go home! Because my wonderful friend & sister-in-Christ shared herself & her time, Love & kindness with me it started the whole process of recovery & God worked a miracle in my life! Thank you for sharing Chist & His love through your ministry! Love & prayers, Sherry Chatham
Anna Gonzalez says
I experience kindness every morning when my cat steps on me and meows in my ear to wake me up. Animals are a blessing.
I was with a friend today while we went to check out a stage where we are going to do a clogging performance next week. We were early so my friend bought me a hot chocolate – kindness number one! After we checked out the stage and then drove back to her place we were a bit early to have lunch so she gave me a slice of quiche to take home – kindness number two!
I am usually by myself all day so even being able to go with someone for the morning was kindness number 3! Thank you, Lord , for blessing me today!
Andrea Martin says
I have been shown so many kindnesses in my life. God has blessed me beyond measure. The kindness that makes me pay it forward though was from my sixth grade teacher. She saw me and showed me my worth and value. I help people today because of her. I will never forget her and I love her.
Beth Williams says
The first “big” kindness I was shown was when I moved out of state for college. My neighbor down the hill brought me dinner the first night. Through out that semester they fed me often & looked after me. Since that time I have tried to be that pebble in the water. Paying it forward. When my in laws got sick at same time-I started cooking/feeding them. Each month after volunteering with Feed Multitude I would take a casserole & fruit to them. Often times I would cook up meals on my own.
Last year my pastor’s mother in law was moving in with them. They were going to drive 5 hrs to get her. I cooked a large chicken pot pie & some bread for them to enjoy when they got back. Earlier this year her mom passed & I along with others in the church made some food for them.
Like David I know that with God ALL things are possible. The odds may be against us but God is for & with us. Yes to being the pebble that creates ripples in others lives.
Kristen Kammer-Hattox says
Kindness…a small thing that means SO VERY MUCH! My mom is going through an extremely challenging time right now on her cancer journey. Just when I was feeling very alone and overwhelmed, a few friends have shown up in small ways – a lunch, a bag of autumn coziness on my steps, and just a note – which have completely touched my heart and reminded me to look up and out.
Rhonda Briggs says
What a sweet giveaway!!
I feel the kindness of friends and the church when people take the time to visit with my adult daughter who has numerous disabilities. I feel overwhelmed often but the hardest thing to see is my daughter’s loneliness. Seeing people take the time to talk to her, give her a hug or share a laugh is kindness that warms my heart.
Shelley Ridley says
My dad just had a stem cell transplant (he is not a believer, YET) and we have had people make us gift baskets of food, snacks and things to occupy our mind as well as ministry gifts to help with groceries while being out of town for 4 months.
“David wasn’t responsible for the outcome. He was responsible for hearing God, responding in faith, and showing up. An entire nation of people was changed because of it. “ So true as we let God do what only He can do…
Kindness is present in words actions and also when we pause and think before we speak and act.
Karen D Sherrod says
I recently lost my daughter. She had been sick with multiple illnesses for almost two years. I don’t think we’re ever ready for such a loss but I do know that she is completely healed and in the presence of our Lord. She is also back with her dad who preceeded her in his heavenly journey in 1998. Would appreciate your prayers.
Micheale Louise Keenan says
After what has arguably been the most devastating years of the 57 I have been blessed with, a handwritten letter came to my new home address from a perfect stranger back in June. The letter simply expressed the need to understand Isaiah 33:24, God’s kingdom, and the Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-10. A random act of kindness indeed…..
A caring husband who helps most times with the kids and cooking while my career is advancing. I am thankful this is working for my family at this time.