I heard a good true story over the weekend from a friend who's a teacher. She works at a school where there's a really happy, full-on home-economics teacher in her early 60s. Earlier this year, that lady had an unexpected serious heart attack from which she was extremely lucky to ever recover.
So during her convalescence, the home-ec teacher began to wonder just what it was that God had saved for her. She began to imagine that maybe she ought to show her appreciation in some tangible way, such as joining a mission, helping in third world countries or becoming involved in some huge charity, but she couldn't work out what it ought to be. And as some of these things are such big commitments, she knew she'd find it hard to come up with the necessary finances. So she prayed the issue through, trusting that if God wanted to give her a new lease on life, He'd certainly find some way of letting her know what it ought to be.
It happened that on the very week she prayed, several students, both past and current, mentioned to her that her input had positively impacted their lives in various ways. And as result of all these coincidences, she decided with certainty that she was simply supposed to be continuing with the very thing that she'd been doing for over twenty years. Sometimes we make it so hard for ourselves by downplaying our roles in life, trying to figure out something to do that we would deem more worthwhile than what we're already doing. But the fact is that we are already exactly where we need to be, doing the acts of quiet, nameless heroism that are making an impact whether or not we acknowledge them.
It reminds me of another true story I heard, about a guy who wanted to positively impact the world but he was too overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the world's problems to think that anything he could do would do any good. A friend of his mentioned that he'd been helping out serving soup at a homeless shelter and asked if he'd be interested in helping too. The guy really wanted to, but it seemed so futile. He asked his friend, 'How do you keep up your spirits when the lines of hungry people just keep growing?' The reply was, 'I have to confess that the reason I do this is because it keeps my spirits up. I know I can't solve the problem of world hunger but I know that every plate of food I prepare is going to somebody who really needs it and that makes me feel alive, more like the man I want to be.'
We see lots of gloom and doom on the news each night, but the world is full of quiet heroes who just get on with their jobs and make the world a better place.