If you are visiting today for the first time after reading my Proverbs 31 Devotion, welcome. If you are a regular bloggy friend, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm deeply touched you would spend a few of your precious minutes today with me. I'm praying God has a gift for you, packaged in His Word.
I imagine many, if not all of you, are dealing with something hard in your life. Actually, most women face hard challenges. I'm no exception. I've been overwhelmed by my circumstances in the past. Once, I was so trapped in fear I couldn't eat or sleep. Many times worry pesters me like a thirsty mosquito. I've got five teenagers ... need I say more?
Yet in His mercy, God has brought me through some tough times. Today, perhaps I can share some hope and practical tips with you. In fact, I want to look at a familiar Bible story for some of both: the feeding of the 5,000. As I was praying about what to write, God used Scripture to clarify something that He has taught me in my own life. Let's look at the Mark 6: 30-44 version.
To set the scene, Jesus and the disciples were exhausted. They had been ministering all day and wanted to rest. In fact, they were trying to get away for some peace and quiet. However, people were so desperate they ran after them, and actually got to the other side of a lake before Jesus did.
Have you ever felt exhausted by the demands on you? Have you felt emotionally bankrupt, with relentless needs chasing after you? Have you been at the end of your resources with nothing left to give?
That's probably how the disciples felt that day. Empty. Just when they wanted to curl up and rest, Jesus started to minister to the people. Didn't He notice they were exhuasted?
In fact, the disciples tried to stop Him. They said, "This is a remote place ... and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
So not only were the disciples exhausted, they were in a barren place with NO resources.
Have you every felt like that? Have you ever been in a "desert" place, isolated and alone, with no resources and yet people expect you to do something for them? In fact, Jesus expected the disciples to do something too.
"But he answered, 'You give them something to eat.'"
Can you picture the scene here? Exhausted disciples ... remote place ... no resources. Sounds a lot like me at times. The good news for all of us today is that Jesus has a plan for our hard times. One of them is found in this familiar story. I think we can apply a 5-step principle from this passage to dealing with hard times.
1) The disciples speak honestly to Jesus. They are tired, and it's pretty complainy, but it's HONEST.
2) Jesus asks them to present what they have. (5 loaves of bread and two fish)
3) Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit down in groups. (v. 39)
4) Jesus thanks God for the food. (v. 41)
5) The disciples are put to work serving the people they didn't think they could serve, as Jesus worked a miracle and expanded their resources. (v. 41)
Most of this is pretty obvious. Jesus values honesty and He can take little and expand it. I've read lots about those truths. But the part that hit me this week was telling the people to sit down in groups. Why did He do that? Here's my take.
In the face of an overhelming, potentially desperate, situation, Jesus knew everybody needed order. Not just the hungry multitudes, but those called to do the work. What if by breaking the people into groups, the overwhelming situation seemed a little more managable?
Perhap Jesus sensed that the disciples needed to have control over something. And by organizing what they could, the disciples focused on what was in their control. While they did that, Jesus did His part ... performed a miracle.
As I face hard in my own life, there is wisdom in this for me. Sometimes, all I think about is what I CAN'T control. I focus on the problem and how unfair the situation is. Even though I've prayed, confessed my needs and presented my resources to Jesus, all I think about is what I gave Him. Or how little I have to face the problem. It's a pretty myopic view.
I somehow forget that I'm loved by the One who can feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish ... and have leftovers!!!
Now I see the wisdom in focusing on what is still within my control, and trusting Jesus with what only He can do - that's the miracle part. It's not a distraction technique ... it's an act of faith.
What should you to do today while Jesus is taking care of the rest?
In His Love,