“How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” Mark 8:4
Imagine it. You’re looking out over a crowd of four thousand people—as far as your eye can see. They haven’t eaten in three days, and neither have you. Oh, and you’re out in the middle of nowhere in the first century. As powerful as the teaching has been over the past three days, you know there’s about to be a problem. That’s when that dreaded question comes to mind: “How?”
It’s human reasoning to look at the circumstances, assess the situation, and come to a conclusion. You can’t blame the disciples, can you? It would be totally understandable if it weren’t for one little reality… they were with Jesus, and He had just performed a similar miracle of even greater magnitude just days before this. In a few moments, He would do it again—feed a crowd of thousands by multiplying the contents of a single, small lunch.
We’ve all found ourselves in these moments in our lives. Maybe the circumstances were a little different—the job was lost, the money dried up, the person left, the diagnosis came in—but we look at the circumstances, assess the situation, and come to that same dreaded conclusion… “How?” Whether we will readily admit it or not, we look at God’s potential through the lens of our circumstances rather than our circumstances through the lens of God’s potential.
I think what Jesus is patiently and graciously teaching his disciples (and us) is this: It’s not about the how. It’s about the who. The process by which God accomplishes His will in our lives and in the world will often be a mystery to our finite minds. In the middle of their helplessness, Jesus shows His disciples His miraculous potential. What they had seen wasn’t the result of the right place and the right time. It wasn’t by coincidence or the byproduct of having the right combination of circumstances. This miracle happened because Jesus holds all the power and provision of Heaven. The ocean-parting, slave-delivering God they worship and read about is the same God standing before them, breaking bread for the crowds. They still didn’t fully grasp or understand who Jesus was and, as a result, failed to recognize all He was capable of doing.
I think that’s the reason an older Peter—one of the forgetful disciples present in this story—spoke of his role and responsibility as a Pastor and Leader very simply: “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder” (2 Pt. 1:13). Why? Because Peter knew firsthand how easily we forget. We need to be stirred up to remember who Jesus is and what He’s done so that we may view our present and future circumstances in light of His past faithfulness and eternal character. It’s not about the how… It’s about the who, and He never changes (Heb. 13:8). You can rest knowing that the same God who used a Lunchable to feed thousands can redeem your circumstances and use them for your good and His glory.
Personal Prayer Focus
Let’s focus our prayer today on remembering the times God showed up big. When he provided in an impossible situation. When the numbers didn’t add up in the bank account, but He made a way. Remember and thank Him. Ask your heavenly Father to help you remember and count on WHO he is when you face a need instead of panicking over how that need will be met.
WRC Prayer Focus
As our 21 days of prayer come to a close, let’s focus our prayer today on the persecuted Church around the world. Pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their commitment to Jesus, and ask the Lord to increase their faith, encourage them, protect them and give them supernatural strength, boldness, and courage to endure.