Mark 8: 1-9
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.’
His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’
‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked.
‘Seven,’ they replied.
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present.
Here we are, just two chapters later in Mark’s Gospel since Jesus fed 5000 not counting women and children, and the disciples are once again in a dilemma about how to provide a meal for such a large crowd. The people are different, being largely Gentile and not Jewish, but the problem is so similar that one wonders how the disciples could have forgotten so quickly the previous multiplication of the little boy’s loaves and fish. Are they really that forgetful or lacking in faith?
Before I am too harsh with them, it’s important to recognise the same tendency towards forgetting God’s past provision and unwavering faithfulness in my own life. When I run into a problem, when finances are low, when sickness afflicts a loved one, when the pressure is on – I often suffer from spiritual amnesia, forgetting those many times when I have been in the same or a similar situation and God has always come through. He has never let me down before, so why am I so stressed, convincing myself that this time will be different?
Remember when David was faced with Goliath. In what looked like an impossible situation, he reached back into his past and recalled other giants he had already faced, the lion and the bear. These previous giants we maybe smaller and slightly less dangerous giants than Goliath, but David chose to remember how God had protected him and helped him then, so he says: ‘If God has never failed me before, then I can trust the same God to go with me now.’
Whenever we come up against our giants, obstacles and opposition in life, it’s easy for us to panic and forget that perhaps a year ago we had a similar problem and God brought us through it. Maybe five years ago we faced some significant loss or trial that we thought we would never get over. But as we look back now, we can see how good God was, how He cared for us, comforted us and carried us through it. Maybe we had prayed for something that we wanted so badly and it didn’t happen. It seemed like God had ignored our cries. But now we look back and are deeply thankful that He didn’t answer that prayer because our life would have been a disaster if He had.
Think about your life – has God ever failed you? I’m not asking has everything always gone exactly how you wanted it to go. Nor am I suggesting that nothing negative has ever happened to you. Of course it has. That’s just life in a fallen world. But through all of that, has God ever failed you, has He abandoned you? Or has He always been faithful? And if God has been faithful in your past, why can’t you trust him to be faithful with your future? The circumstances change, the problems are different, but God is the same, His character never changes.
In the Old Testament, whenever God helped his people in some special way or provided for their needs, they would set up large stones called ‘stones of remembrance’ so that every time in the future they looked at that stone, they could recall God’s love, care and faithfulness.
We should do the same. Not literally by setting up huge rocks in our homes! However, we should find ways to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and goodness, maybe by writing down a prayer of thanksgiving for how He has helped us. And we should also share our stories with others of how God has come through in times of trial and difficulty. It can be incredibly faith-building to hear how God brought someone through a dark and difficult time which might be similar to the one you are currently facing. Our God is no respecter of persons, what He has done for them, He can also do for you.
Why not take 5 minutes today to remember and write down ways you have experienced God’s goodness, faithfulness and provision in recent times. Use past miracles as the fuel for future faith.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am and 11.30 am. In the evening we will gather to go out into the community as part of 10,000 Hours.
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