Ever been stressed out? Ever felt like you were giving all that you had and you just couldn’t possibly see how it was going to be enough? Have you ever had some large task before you and had no idea how you were possibly going to tackle it?
I know I have.
But I read a Gospel reading today that reminded me of an important lesson – one I normally miss when reading this particular passage.
“When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go
to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
He said to them in reply,
“Give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?”
He asked them,
“How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”
And when they had found out they said,
“Five loaves and two fish.”
So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.
The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.
Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people;
he also divided the two fish among them all.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish.
Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.” – Mark 6:34-44
This passage teaches us a lot. It demonstrates the ultimate power of God to give us the physical food we need to survive. It shows us God’s great love for us: being moved with pity and tending to our every need. And it shows that we need a stronger faith in Him than we do and to know that He will take care of us.
But what stuck out to me was less obvious than all of that. Of course, this is not a new insight, but it was a nice nuance for me today.
God desires to work with us. He asks us to participate in his love and his work.
Jesus could have easily performed the same miracle out of a rock, or the air, or out of nothing. After all, he created everything out of nothing. But he doesn’t do that here.
When the disciples don’t have enough food to feed everyone (not even enough to feed themselves!), Jesus doesn’t say, “Alrighty then, don’t worry about it. I’ll pick up the tab.” Instead, he basically replies, “Well give me whatever you have.” And they did.
And from five loaves of bread and two fish, He feeds thousands of people. Now certainly Jesus didn’t need the five loaves or the two fish. In fact, there is far more than that left over after everyone eats!
From a practical standpoint, the size of the contribution made by the disciples for that night’s dinner was insignificant. But the fact that they contributed was central. It was all that they had. And that’s exactly the point.
We are often faced with our own five thousand people to feed – in whatever form that might take. And many times we can’t see how our five loaves and two fish are gonna get the job done. But God simply asks that we give all that we have. This is all we can do. And that is all God wants.
So no matter how little you have to work with, don’t worry or stress. Just give it all to the task at hand and God will take care of whatever else truly needs to get done. Just give him your five loaves and your two fish.