Create by: Hungsu Lim December 8, 2015 at 10:43 pm
[Advent Devotion] Day 8 “More Than Enough”
“Taking them with him, Jesus withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds figured it out, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about God’s kingdom, and healed those who were sick. When the day was almost over, the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so that they can go to the nearby villages and countryside and find lodging and food, because we are in a deserted place.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.” But they said, “We have no more than five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all these people.” . . . He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, and broke them and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. Everyone ate until they were full, and the disciples filled twelve baskets with the leftovers.” (Luke 9:10-13, 16-17 CEB)
One time a friend invited me to coffee to catch up on life. During the conversation, he told me about things that were weighing heavy on him about his sense of call to serve in a community where there were great needs. He believed he had good ideas about how to address one of these needs in particular; however, he was feeling mentally fatigued and stretched by carrying a few heavy burdens of his own and was unsure if he had enough material and spiritual resources to say yes to the task. After a few months, my friend decided to say yes anyway. As he ignored his insufficiency, shared his vision, and started in the work, he found that he and God were more than enough to do what was required. Things started to fall into place as others came alongside to help shape the vision and support the work with unique gifts and resources.
Like my friend, we can wrestle with feelings of emotional fatigue, spiritual anxiety, and material limitations. Today’s Scripture passage shows us that these feelings arise naturally out of our shared human experience.
Preceding this passage is the story of John the Baptist’s beheading. Jesus seemed to be deeply grieved by the news of John’s death and departed to a solitary place, no doubt to mourn and seek spiritual renewal in prayer. Even so, Jesus couldn’t get away. Crowds of people followed him, and the disciples were there with their own complaints and worries. It would be understandable if Jesus became frustrated. Despite his own grief, he still had persons pressing him to meet their needs, and his disciples were exhausted and irritated because they realized their own sense of limitation. They expressed this irritation when they said to Jesus, “Let’s send the people away. We only have five fish and some loaves left!” Jesus’ response was quite instructive. Instead of being exasperated, he showed compassion, freeing the disciples from a perspective of lack and encouraging them to realize that they had more than enough to meet the need.
Jesus helped the disciples first by having them grapple with what they could do: “You feed them,” he said. Jesus wanted them to see that such a calling required faith, not fear and avoidance of responsibility. It required that they creatively think of solutions, as best as they could, and trust God for the rest. Next, Jesus told his disciples to give to him what they did have. He blessed the offering and began feeding the crowd, not thinking about the limits of supply. And as the story goes, there was more than enough. Jesus taught his disciples through this experience that by giving what you do have and not worrying about your limitations, you can witness the miraculous.
As we follow Jesus, there will be times when we are overwhelmed and depleted. Even when we are grieving, tired, and unable to see all the possibilities, there may be unfair expectations. In such times, we can be assured that God knows our constraints and will work with what we do have to offer. And as my friend discovered, we will find that we are enough.
May you live in the liberating perspective that you are enough.
PRAYER: Lord, you command us to love you with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I confess that at times this can be overwhelming, and I’m not always sure I have what it takes to do what is loving, just, and kind. When those times come, liberate me from a perspective of lack and enable me to live out a perspective shaped by love, hope, and faith—faith that there are always enough resources to love my neighbor. Amen.
(from “SENT: Devotion” Week 2 – Jesus Sets Us Free by Lanecia Rouse)
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