It is easy for me to feel overwhelmed with insufficiency. As I look at those around me, the circumstances that I feel insufficient for, the goals that seem insurmountable, I can become stymied at what little I have to offer. It doesn’t take me long to figure out that I am NOT ENOUGH. The “needs” outweigh my resources and abilities.
But that is not the final qualification about me. I am learning a valuable lesson.
It isn’t up to me!
Are you feeling depleted?
Amazingly, feeling depleted is not just a contemporary issue faced by many of us today. It happened to Jesus and His disciples as well. After they had a heavy season of ministry meeting the needs of others, word came of John the Baptist, their fellow servant of the Gospel, being beheaded. The emotional blow on top of their physical fatigue threatened to overwhelm them. So Jesus took swift action in Mark 6:31 when He told the disciples,
Come with me by yourselves to a quiet palce and get some rest.
Jesus recognized that people have limitations and that they need to care for themselves at times. The needs before us are inexhaustible while we are NOT.
What has you feeling weary? Which “need” in life seems more than you can handle?
- stay at home mom
- abusive or dysfunctional marriage
- family member with an addiction
- over-demanding job
- pastor of a struggling church
- learning disabled child
- mental illness
- toxic supervisor
- chronic illness
The list is endless of what requires more than we have to give. It is only a matter of time before we realize we are incapable of what is needed. Then what?
What happened to the disciples when they were depleted?
The passage in Matthew 14:13-21 ESV details what happened to Jesus and the disciples as they pulled away to gain some rest. Crowds followed them NEEDING even more! Their opportunity to replenish themselves was lost even as the demands grew before them.
What I love about this story is how Jesus responded at seeing the crowds needing MORE. He had compassion on them! So more healing and teaching took place that day even though Jesus and the disciples were depleted.
As evening began to draw closer, the disciples recognized another need that would quickly surface- the need for food. The large crowds were in a remote area with no source of nourishment nearby. Their instinct was to send them away to get food from the closest towns but also, I would imagine, to get them off their “to-do” list. The disciples had to be tired of the responsibility of it all.
People are needy creatures. Sometimes, we just want to clock out and be done with it!
But that is not what Jesus had in mind……..
Why would Jesus expect more from His disciples?
Christ would not agree with the disciples’ suggestion of sending the people away. He flatly told THEM to feed the crowd, which numbered into the thousands!
If ever the disciples felt insufficient, it was now!
Why would Jesus say something so ridiculous? It was one thing to have food enough for themselves but for that many more people, that was impossible! Which begs the question of why would Jesus ask His exhausted disciples to do what was clearly not possible?
I love His words to them after they replied about the little food they had- 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. (Matt.14:18)
Bring them here to me.
Jesus directed the people to sit down in groups, then He gave thanks for what they had even though it was clearly insufficient. He gave the disciples the food who served it to the people. A miracle was performed that day as there was so much food multiplied that 12 basketfuls were left over!
It says in verse 20 that they all ate and were satisfied……..wow! It isn’t lost on me that ALL ate and were satisfied. Jesus met the disciples need for nourishment even as they met the crowd’s need! In their insufficiency, they continued to follow Christ’s direction whereby their own needs were met.
What took place that day?
Jesus never expected the disciples to provide what they didn’t have. Their insufficiency was irrelevant, not even a part of the equation that day.
What did matter was what they did with the little that they had, their “insufficiency”. They brought it to Jesus and He did the rest. It was up to Him to multiply the supply in order to meet the need.
His expectation of them was not in their ability or resources but in their dependence on Him. He wanted to be their knee-jerk reaction to “need”, whether THEIR need or for meeting the needs of OTHERS. Jesus gave to the disciples and the disciples gave to the people.
That is ministry!
That is life here on earth before we go home to heaven. We don’t have what it takes but we were never meant to. It was always the plan, whether for the Israelites wandering around the desert thirsty or David being chased by enemies or the disciples needing food for the hungry crowds. Believers are to look to God to provide tangibly for what they need. It is a matter of expectation.
3 lessons Christ had for the disciples
- God expects His people to serve His kingdom purpose
- He equips His servants with the abilities needed to serve
- God supplies the resources that satisfy the needs of all
How our insufficiency becomes secondary to His purpose
When the needs of others seem more than we can handle or when our own needs are beyond our abilities, we must remember the miraculous sufficiency of our Gracious God. The saying “willing and able” is not accurate for believers. God only asks us to be willing while He is the One making us able.
I try to remind myself that it isn’t up to ME to provide or produce what is needed. I am His responsibility and so are you! Our insufficiency is more than enough as God beckons us to 3 things.
- Be willing.
- Be faithful.
- Be thankful.
We are to be willing to follow His bidding, faithful to dispense His provision for it, and thankful for the abilities/supplies even when it seems less than what we feel is necessary to meet the need. It is going to be normal to feel like the supply is never enough. What miraculous transaction in the Bible seemed sufficient on the front end. If that were the case, it wouldn’t have been a miracle!
Even in our insufficiency, we can feel confident! Believers can and will be the hands of a Mighty, Gracious God. We will have more than enough because HE is MORE THAN ENOUGH!
As we look at the impossible requirements facing us as we meet the needs of the people or plans before us, we can quickly look to Jesus for the equipping and resources only He can supply. His sufficiency is our glorious inheritance as His ransomed bride!
What this means to me
As I sat down to write this first post after a tumultuous few weeks of moving from our city for the last 32 years to a new home across the state, then evacuating because of Hurricane Irma, I began to feel like it was impossible to do what I feel called to do. The demands and goals from ministry seemed insurmountable. I felt totally incapable of meeting the needs, thinking “Who am I that I should think I have what it takes to do this?!”
When I consider what it would take to fulfill what is necessary for my calling, I am slapped in the face with all my insufficiency. It was so difficult yesterday not give in to the appearance of how little my resources appeared to me. You see, I was learning this lesson all over again, even as I wrote it!
I decided to lay it aside for the day and go to our revival at church last night in order to get refocused on God more than the task He has for me in this calling. I needed to recognize my dependence upon Him as I follow His plan and then exercise the belief that He will provide what is needed to meet all our needs, both mine and yours as I seek to serve. Being thankful was also key for me as I remembered that Jesus thanked God before the miraculous multiplication of the resources.
I harkened back to one of my favorite verses mentioned above, “from Him, through Him and to Him”. God’s purpose for all of us is from Him and it will be accomplished through Him, giving all the glory to Him.
I don’t see any mention of our insufficiency in the equation…….do you?
To His glory and grace, it is good to be back my friends,