I have been really encouraged by my daily devotionals this past week, and have been helped by one in particular, by Laura Espy, which was based on suffering, and relating it to the feeding of the 5000. It was something that I had not seen before, in a story that we are told from being very small, of a miracle that Jesus did when he was here on earth. To me it didn’t really seem to resonate in my personal life until this week, as I have studied it in more detail as a consequence of reading what Laura had written. I don’t think that this story is solely about provision, but also about being willing to give thanks, and to use what we have, where we are.
If you break the text down, Jesus makes a ridiculous request in human terms: “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6 v37). I’ll tell you what would be going through my head: “What?!? You have got to be joking, right?”
Nope. Obviously not, because Jesus then asks what they have (v38). And the answer? Five loaves and 2 fish, to feed 5000 men; let alone the women and children.
But Jesus asks for it anyway, and do you know what he does? He gives thanks for it! Does this not blow your mind? Jesus gives thanks for the not enough, for what little there is to go around. Why would you do that?
The difference is Jesus has supernatural faith in his heavenly Father. So he breaks it, and he starts the process of the bread being used for what it was created for. The bread can only be used to its full potential when it is broken; it cannot be shared if it is whole.
Then Jesus gives the bread back to the disciples to pass out what little they do have. And do you know what? What they have nourishes and satisfies the whole crowd, with leftovers! The thought of leftovers absolutely floors me; how awesome is our God? How can you be anything but full of awe at this? Because they gave thanks to God, and were willing to use what they had, the people got what they needed.
To me this proves that even in our own state of need and brokenness, we can still be used by God, all that He requires is a willingness from us to look for the opportunities and do as He asks. The broken bread passed through Jesus’ hands; if we allow Him to hold us in our brokenness, then who knows what could happen, and how that could be used for His glory?
He doesn’t require us to be “super spiritual”, or “have it all together”, because who really ever gets to that point? If we waited ‘til then, we may be waiting our whole lives. There would be many opportunities and people missed; opportunities that can only be fulfilled by us in the place that we are in, using our real current and past experiences.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not telling you that this is easy – far from it! What I am saying is that none of us really feel adequate, but if we do what God asks then He will honour that for His glory. He can use the “little” that we have, with leftovers to spare! We are not doing this for ourselves, but in order to reveal the glory of God here on earth. Who else is there to do it?
God needs you because you are fearfully, wonderfully, and uniquely made. There are things that only you can do; there are no substitutes. We can’t really sit on the sidelines of our own lives, can we?
So how our suffering shapes us, is our decision.
We can choose to go down the bitter route, and end up in resentment; or we can choose to give it to Jesus, and allow him to use it to shape us for our good, and to be more like him.