“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.”
About two months ago, I got engaged to the most godly man I know. It was a day that I will never forget, a day that will forever stand out to me as one of the best. It was more than I could have ever dreamed to ask for. On that day, I was overcome with joy about marrying this man. Since the proposal, this joy has not changed; if anything, my joy has grown.
However, over the past two months, I have come to realize what few people tell you in the excitement of getting engaged—planning a wedding requires a lot of time and energy. No one had ever told me how much of my time would be required to research vendors. No one discussed how many conversations would have to go into determining a location for the wedding, especially when the two people getting married live across the country from one another. Needless to say, this process has been quite a surprise to me.
In the midst of this crazy season, I find myself coming to the Lord feeling like I have very little to offer. I find myself holding up the few minutes of free time I have, wondering how He could possibly use me. I think about the Kingdom work that is needed in this dark world, and the work seems so huge that it must be impossible for Him to use me to do anything about it, especially when it feels like I have so little to give.
Many of you may feel the same way. In whatever circumstance or stage of life we find ourselves, there is always so much to do for the Kingdom with so few of our own resources. When we look at the world and dream about the things that stir our compassion, the problems and needs appear too huge for us.
This sense of helplessness is what the disciples feel in Matthew 14. It has been a long day of ministry for their Teacher, Jesus Christ. He has been healing non-stop. The sun is setting, and they are at the end of their strength, with seemingly nothing left to offer. There are 5,000-plus people who need to be fed. The best, they think, they could possibly do for them is to send them away so they can find food. But Jesus disagrees; He sees the circumstances from a completely different perspective. With what little they have to offer, He tells the disciples not to send the people away, but to meet their needs.
All they had to give was five loaves and two fish. To us, what we have to give seems so small, too. Yet, placed in Jesus' ever capable hands, lifted up to the Father, we see the meager things we have to offer multiplied in ways that are astonishing, used in ways we never thought possible, to fulfill His purposes. N.T. Wright summarizes what we see at work here:
“What Jesus does with what we give Him is so mysterious and powerful that it's hard to describe in words. We blunder in with our ideas. We offer, uncomprehending, what little we have. Jesus takes ideas, loaves and fishes, money, a sense of humor, time, energy, talents, love, artistic gifts, skill with words, quickness of eye or fingers, whatever we have to offer. He holds them before His Father with prayer and blessing. Then, breaking them (there's the cost, yet again) so they are ready for use, He gives them back to us to give to those who need them.”
Oh, that we would let this truth seep deep into our hearts. Oh, that we would believe that He can powerfully multiply all that we surrender into His hands. Would we say before the Lord, “All I have here is...” believing that He is not only able to use it, to use you, but that He delights to do so! Whatever He has given you in this moment, it is enough. You are enough. By His grace and through His power, you are enough.
I cannot help but hear the magnificent words of Paul ringing in my ears as I think about what God can do with little me, seemingly insignificant, and the minuscule things I have to offer. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)