There’s a story in the Bible (Matthew 14:13-21), that is very familiar to most people. It tells of how Jesus took a couple of fish and a little bread, and fed over five thousand people with it….and there were 12 baskets of leftovers!
Impossible, right? But there it is in scripture, plain as day.
Recently I was reading through the biblical account of that story and noticed something interesting that I’d like to share with you. Matthew records that when a huge crowd had gathered, and Jesus was ministering to them, the disciples said, basically, “It’s late, and there’s nothing here to eat. We should send these people away to the villages to find food.” Then Jesus said, (listen to this!)…….”They do not need to go away, you give them something to eat.”
So picture the disciples! Hungry, tired, empty handed and no food in sight. And Jesus says “you feed these thousands of people.” Jesus could have skipped that part. He could have just said to them, “you’re right, let me create some food from thin air and feed everyone.”
But he didn’t. Why?
In my work as a counselor, I am humbled to hear many stories of human suffering, difficulty, sadness, fears, and despair. Many stories where the circumstances are dire and the path toward healing and restoration seem so …….. impossible. In many of these situations I can see Jesus looking squarely in the eyes of His beloved child (my client), and telling him or her to do the impossible. To forgive, to let go of the lost loved one, to overcome the shame of failure, to love someone who is difficult to love, to give up the bottle, to stay in the marriage. Things that seem impossible.
Why does He ask us to do impossible things?
So we can learn to trust Him more than we trust ourselves. In that moment, the one who hears His voice knows that they don’t have the power to obey His command. That power will have to come from Jesus, just like it did over two thousand years ago. It will have to be the same divine strength that created all that food, with extra to spare.
When Jesus tells me to do something that is too big for me, I know what I need to do. I need to do what the disciples did. I need to bring my two fish and my piece of bread, knowing that it’s not enough, and turn it over to Him. That way, when He performs the miracle, I can have the immense satisfaction of knowing He let me participate in His work, but without the self-glorifying pride that is the arch enemy of every Christian’s heart.