“Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.' Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, 'Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.' So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten."
- John 6:10-13
This passage describes one of our Lord's greatest miracles, the feeding of the 5,000 (which most assuredly involved an even more massive crowd when one includes the women and children in attendance). As Jesus and his disciples sought a secluded place to rest following a long period of traveling ministry, as well as to mourn after the murder of John the Baptist, a massive crowd followed. Captivated by stories of miraculous signs and wonders, these show seekers longed to catch a glimpse of Jesus for themselves.
The disciples rightly surmised that they were on the edge of a miniature humanitarian disaster. From where would all of these people get food? Philip openly noted, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little" (John 6:7). Andrew showed the disciples' desperation when he noted a little boy who brought five barley loaves and two fish with him. You know it's a dire situation when a disciple of Jesus is looking to raid a kid's lunch box!
The disciples were confused and increasingly desperate. Interestingly, that's exactly what Jesus wanted them to be! Jesus brought them into a place of apparent impossibility so that he might reveal himself as the One through whom all things are possible.
Are you in a situation that seems impossible? Maybe it's your finances. Maybe it's your relationships. Maybe it's your work. Maybe it's your studies. Maybe it's an emotional struggle. Maybe it's an addiction. Maybe it feels like a lot of those at once. How should you respond?
Notice that Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for feeling overwhelmed. He expected it. Instead, Jesus encouraged them to trust and obey him moment-by-moment, to follow him step-by-step, despite their feelings. Through their little acts of faith and obedience, Jesus solved a huge - seemingly impossible - problem.
Child of God: You might feel overwhelmed. You might be facing a problem for which there is no readily apparent solution. As the disciples confessed their confusion to Jesus, you can do the same. Seek God's wisdom in prayer; James tells us that our Father imparts wisdom generously to his children without finding fault (James 1:5). Also, try not to panic. For every problem, there is a provision (1 Corinthians 10:13). Follow Jesus moment-by-moment and step-by-step, starting with the little things. He will add them up. Remember: there is never a problem in front of you bigger than the God standing right beside you.
You're loved. Don't forget it.