The story of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children gives us great hope and confidence in a God who can care for us. However, it’s sobering to remember that this exciting event directly followed the beheading of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. In his grief, Jesus was attempting to withdraw from the masses to process his grief and find solace alone with His Father in prayer. Yet the crowds pursued him even to his wilderness retreat. So how did his own grief influence his response to the pressing crowd? We read that he did not shut out the crowds to dwell on his own pain and sorrow, but instead opened his heart and hands wider.
What about our own vulnerability to pain, loss and disappointment? Can it enable us to empathize with others and place us in a better position to express the heart of Christ? If we wait until everything is great or we feel empowered with the right answers or resources, we may never respond effectively to others’ needs. In fact, our own sorrow and sense of need may well enhance our compassion and strengthen our ministry. Perhaps we need to be confronted with our own vulnerability and depletion in order to better see the crowds around us with eyes of compassion instead of judgment or indifference. When we feel least ready or capable of responding to the pain and neediness of others, God is most able to reveal himself and His power through us (II Cor.12:9).
Knowing their lack of resources, Jesus still expected His disciples to do what they could with what they had. Their offering seemed so pitifully small compared to the massive need and they felt so inadequate to the task. But Jesus accepted those few loaves and fish, multiplying them to feed the entire crowd with 12 baskets leftover. That day people’s spiritual and physical hunger was addressed. Then Jesus was able to again retreat to renew and restore his own spirit and soul in private prayer.
In the midst of our sorrows, stresses and sense of inadequacy, let us be content to offer what little we have and let God maximize it to meet the needs of the people to whom we are called to minister.
To think about:
- What personal pain, grief or anxiety do you need to place at the feet of Jesus in order to better serve someone else?
- Are there some people in your life who Jesus may be telling you to help?
- What do you have to offer to help them that Jesus can multiply to more fully meet their need?
Written By: Mrs. Hope Carter, lecturer at Moffat Bible College, Kijabe, Kenya, trained as a ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator