We all face problems: some small, others large, a few impossible! How and where do we find a tangible solution to the towering difficulties we face? Finding resolution when the problems are enormous is what I want to look at today.
I often feel “recharged” in the prospect of finding a solution. If the problem is daunting, there may be a hesitation in my step, but generally I’ll roll up my sleeves and dig in with an attitude of “I will eat this elephant one mouthful at a time!”
When the problem appears overwhelming and insurmountable, I respond quite differently! As a matter of fact, my reaction is much like that of the early apostles.
The apostles had just returned from a successful but tiring ministry trip. Jesus saw their exhaustion and knew they needed rest!
“When the apostles returned,
they reported to Jesus what they had done.
Then he took them with him
and they withdrew by themselves
to a town called Bethsaida,”
Why do problems erupt when we are tired and unprepared? Fatigue seems to complicate situations.
“But the crowds learned about it and followed him.”
The presence of a needy crowd escalated the problem even more. Interruptions never disturbed Jesus, however. His compassion was bigger than any crowd! When there was a need, convenient or not, Jesus made Himself available!
“He welcomed them and spoke to them
about the kingdom of God,
and healed those who needed healing.”
Dusk was approaching! In this remote place food was inaccessible. Jesus had healed their bodies and fed them spiritually. Now He asks the disciples for their cooperation.
“Jesus…said to Philip,
‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ ”
“Buy bread? Out here?” I can almost hear Philip’s shocked response.
All four gospels record the details of this day, confirming a crowd of 5,000 men. The number of women would have been similar, with probably even more children. Conservative estimates would tally the crowd at around 15,000.
Have you ever had the doorbell ring fifteen minutes before mealtime, “Just dropping in for a quick visit!” Every woman knows the panic of that moment. To the fridge and pantry she scurries, evaluating the potential for a quick meal.
The magnitude of this problem, however, was much larger! It would be more like opening your door to a thousand starving, weary people.
I love the apostle’s solution:
“Send the crowd away
so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside
and find food and lodging.”
“Jesus, take the problem away!”
“It’s not my problem! Let them find a solution!”
“Send them away!”
Yep! I’ve said all that and more in flare prayer fashion to lesser emergencies! “Please Lord, make the problem go away!”
Jesus didn’t buy into their reasoning:
“You give them something to eat.”
The ex-fishermen looked desperately for a lake and boat, while the former tax collector checked his empty pockets. Even Dr. Luke was at a loss for a reasonable solution.
“That would take more than half a year’s wages!
Are we to go and spend that much on bread
and give it to them to eat?”
The apostles second option was “Send us away!”
“If you aren’t going to take the problem from us, then at least take us from the problem!”
I can laugh a little because right now it isn’t me! But I certainly can relate!
How many times have I tried to wiggle out of a problem God has prepared just for me? The answer, of course, is frequently! I want a way of escape instead of learning more of Him.
I have a name for these times, the pits! It is in the pit, however, where God develops my character and fashions me just a little more like Himself. If I wrangle my way out, there will be another pit coming my way soon. God loves me too much not to invest in my development.
Jesus didn’t allow the Apostles to settle for option #2!
“How many loves do you have? he asked,
‘Go and see.’ ”
Jesus confronts their insufficiency. “What do you have? Go and see! Take a good look!”
The Apostles confess their lack,
“…five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
How unprepared I feel in many situations! My little seems woefully inadequate, while the demands loom large. The longer I stare at the problem, the more insufficient my abilities and resources appear.
No training for this!
Too old to start now!
Skills are lacking!
Thoughts of inadequacy dominate!
In front of the Apostles stood The Solution to every and all need. His Name is Jesus! He took the little they had broken it, blessed it and multiplied it. Be prepared! Breaking always comes before blessing. But only in the breaking can multiplying occur.
The disciples received their meager gift back to give it away. The little they had proved to be more than enough in the hands of the Master.
“They all ate and were satisfied,
and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls
of broken pieces that were left over.”
When God refuses to remove problems from us or us from our problems, there is always a reason. If only we will allow Him to truly take our little, He will bless it. It may need to be broken, but the result will be worth it.
Hindsight will prove Him faithful! Right now, we exercise our faith! With Christ in the equation the solutions will continue to surprise and amaze us, while teaching and changing us.