Trusting God is a struggle for most of us only when life goes a different direction that what we intend. What we often fail to realize is that trust is really only tested when we are placed in stressful situations. We should not be surprised that the Lord allows His followers to face stressful times to grow their trust in Him.
Our study, “Life Lessons” has been a great series for me personally and our congregation. It is encouraging and challenging to follow Jesus’ example when facing those stressful times in life. This past week we spent time unpacking the account of the feeding of the 5000. I think most followers of Jesus are aware of this account. It happens to be the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels. Most know of the young boy that provided his lunch of five loaves and two fish. What we often miss is that this event also served to help Jesus’ followers learn to grow their trust in Him.
This past Sunday, I focused on two insights from this passage. The first was, “God is always working in my life.” It is so easy, when things are difficult, to think that God has forgotten me. The different variations of this include feeling like I am the only one going through something like this to trying to figure out how I made God mad! Yet this account from Jesus’ life reminds us that God is always working in our lives, just as He is in this account. It is easy for us, in our casual reading of this account, to miss that Jesus was probably grieving over the execution of John the Baptist and also feeling weary from the press of ministry. Yet the account reveals that Jesus’ intentions were thwarted by the people following them to the “desolate” place. Imagine going on vacation only to find those you are trying to get a break from wait for you when you arrived! Now, if we are transparent with each other, we would not be excited to be in this position. Yet, Jesus’ response was different than ours. We read, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14) So what enabled Jesus to respond this way? Let me suggest that He knew the Father was always working even when It did not seem like it. Instead of becoming angry, He was moved with compassion. He saw this not as an inconvenience but as an opportunity. It really is a demonstration of His trust in the Father’s will.
A second insight is that He knew that this interruption was part of God’s plan for His earthly ministry. And it was also an opportunity for His disciples to grow their trust! So Jesus ministers and the disciples astutely observe that the people need to be feed. They see the need and bring it to Jesus. What they did not see was Jesus wanted them to trust Him to meet this need. Their limited finances and the five loaves and two fishes put them in a position where they could not fix the problem themselves. They needed to come to Jesus.
So how about you? What is the challenge that you are facing that is greater than your ability to fix? Are you facing a physical ailment? It could be a relationship? It could be financial? Jesus’ example reminds us that the Father knows what is going on in your life. He wants you to come to Jesus for help. He will help you work through this. And He will use what you have to offer. What you are facing is a God allowed opportunity to grow your trust in Him.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson