Part of my job at STAR is to manage the Prayer Wall. While I love having the opportunity to offer prayer to those who need it, the burden of hearing about all the suffering and loss that people in our community experience sometimes grows heavy.
This week alone, I prayed for a parent who has a broken relationship with their adult son. A single mom asked for prayer as she struggles to make ends meet for her children. Another family is expecting a baby who will likely not survive very long after birth.
I’m sure you’ve known similar pain. There is so much loss in this world.
At times, it’s incredibly hard to make sense of it all.
The Encouragement Hidden in The Feeding Of The 5000
I found encouragement as I read in my Bible this week the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. If you don’t know the story, here’s what happens:
Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
I’ve read this passage a million times, but this time I walked away with something new (don’t you love how God always has more to reveal to us in His Word?!).
This time, I couldn’t help but pay attention to the young boy who carefully packed a lunch of bread and fish as he prepared to spend the day hearing Jesus teach. He got up that morning, got himself ready, and (unlike the thousands of grown adults in attendance) he thought to bring a few morsels along to sustain himself throughout the day.
And then Jesus took his lunch away.
A young boy lost what he had, but Jesus redeemed it
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about the boy, but I imagine that did he not have a lot of means. He didn’t have alternative options for lunch apart from what he brought with him – he wasn’t going to be able to run over to McDonald’s for a happy meal.
Jesus took his lunch, and for all he knew, that meant he wasn’t going to be having a meal that day. He lost it and wasn’t getting it back.
If I were him, I certainly would have been upset to have my one good meal for the day taken away. Why would Jesus do something like that?
But we all know what happened. Jesus took that small offering, and turned it into a miraculous feast for thousands. The boy’s loss allowed Jesus to use what he had to do something incredible.
Let God show you how he’s using your pain
When we face trials and suffering, it can be hard to understand why God allows such things to happen. We get overwhelmed by our grief and struggle to imagine how God could redeem these afflictions. With our limited human minds, we often can’t begin to comprehend how God is working through the pain.
But God is good. He is always working. In the midst of our broken relationships, He’s working. He’s working through our physical pain. Our illnesses. Our job losses. Our financial struggles. Our loss of loved ones.
So what if we asked God to help us view our losses through His eyes? What if we asked Him to show us that when we lose someone or something important to us, He’s working.
Our trials are still painful. We still grieve through our suffering.
But then He takes that job loss, and brings us a better one. Through that cancer diagnosis, He teaches us to rely on His strength. Through the loss of a loved one, He brings people who don’t know Him into a saving knowledge of His grace.
Sometimes we find out immediately what God has in store for us. Like when he uses a meager lunch to feed a crowd of thousands. More often, we have to wait expectantly for Him to reveal His work in His timing.
But through it all, we can rest in the assurance that God has supreme authority. He doesn’t waste our losses. His ways are higher than ours, and He has a plan and a purpose for all of our pain.
Don’t miss it – ask God to show you His work. Because He’s going to take what you have and transform it into something extraordinary.
Isaiah 55:9 – For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Digital Channel Manager, KPOF