Outside my office window the early April sun is shining down on the new green grass and yellow daffodils as a brisk spring wind blows through the campus. It is Resurrection weekend here in the Midwest and the creation is starting to reflect it. What you won’t immediately see by watching the blue sky and sunshine, however, is how far removed from the usual Easter celebration we all feel. Christians are struggling to find ways to gather in order to worship together while still following the guidelines and edicts from various government and healthcare bodies. Schools are closed, many until next year; businesses are shuttered, some never to re-open. Family members in hospitals and nursing homes are isolated, grocery stores are poorly stocked, people are fearful of the future. There is very little “normal life” right now. How do we parent our children through this? How do we meet the challenge of these times and overcome?
As I sat down in our wood shop the other day and picked up the day’s reading from the book of Mark, I knew I was reading a big part of the answer. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, verses 30 – 44 we have an account of one of the miracles of Jesus. Jesus and his disciples have gone out into a remote area seeking rest and peace in the midst of some trying times. People see them go and as word begins to spread, they follow him. Soon thousands of people have gathered to see the Christ, to hear him, to seek healing. Out of compassion Jesus ministers to them all day and into the evening. As the day gets late, it becomes obvious that these people have not prepared for a lengthy stay in a remote location and have no food. When the disciples bring this to Jesus’ attention he simply gives them a job, “you give them something to eat.” If you have ever been to Sunday school, you know the rest. The disciples gasp at this impossible task and gather up what they can find – 5 loaves of bread and a couple fish. In frustration and desperation they argue with Jesus and tell him how impossible this job is. Christ simply asks them to give him what they have and proceeds to miraculously feed the thousands of people that have gathered. It is a remarkable story of the humanity, compassion, and miraculous power of Christ.
Now, God has not looked at us and asked us to single handedly feed some 10-15,000 uninvited guests with whatever we can find laying around the house. But often the responsibilities he HAS given us seem just as challenging. The current global crisis has us struggling with how to best take care of our families – how to keep them fed, healthy, safe, educated, happy. Many face the responsibilities of owning a business, of caring for employees, caring for elderly family members, church families, etc. These, and many other responsibilities follow us around at all times and the challenge of meeting them is magnified so much when our usual routines, and courses of action are disrupted or taken away. How do we cope? How do we hear the voice of Christ saying, “YOU give them something to eat” and not respond with frustration and discouragement or despair?
We do it by doing what the disciples did in the end (and what they should have started off by doing). They took all their food, everything they brought, and gave it to Jesus; then they followed his lead. We need to be able to do the same, hopefully with more faith and less sarcasm than the disciples seemed to have possessed, but even if we don’t, even when our faith is imperfect. When we’re faced with the responsibility to lead our kids and our families through hard times, when we feel we don’t have the character or the skill or the endurance to do it, that is when we should be hearing Jesus say, “bring me what you have.” We need to bring all of it, holding nothing back. Jesus Christ has the power and the compassion to take the little that we bring him and make it overwhelmingly enough. Trust him.