I know a woman, a woman that I have developed a close relationship with in the past year, who has had a lot of trauma in her life in the past three to five years; trauma that for many would cause a crisis of faith. In the past couple of years, she has lost her mother, her husband, her sister and her home was repossessed by the bank. She tells me that after her husband died she was asking herself, “What was she going to do? How was she going to be able to provide for her family?”
Her children worried that she might start drinking or just slip away into depression. At one point, she worried that she was going to have to move her family into a shelter. Life was very difficult for her in those days. Many people would wonder, “Where is God in this?” But God was right there in all the changes going on in her life. God was caring for her in the deepest part of her grief. God had embraced her and her family. God’s care in this world is abundant.
We may not always recognize the care of the Lord when we see it. We might feel alone and scared when we are in these big life changing scenes of life. But God is there working behind the scenes. He is there putting things in order so we might learn to experience life and Him in a whole new way. My friend prayed day in and day out that God might give her the strength to make it through the challenges that she face.
Sure enough she found an apartment for her family. She received better employment. She did not let the struggles in her life overcome her. She depended on God and now she gives thanks to God everyday she wakes up that she lives in a clean safe home and she is able to put food on the table. God’s care for her in her times of hard ship was abundant. God had not abandoned her to struggle on alone.
Jesus said in the Bible to trust in him, to trust in the will of the Lord. In the book of Matthew, we hear about the lilies of the valley. They don’t worry about tomorrow, what they will wear because the Lord clothes them. He cares for their every need. Today’s scripture lesson is in connection to that passage. It is the feeding of the five thousand. The disciples worried about how they were going to feed all those people who showed up to learn at the feet of Jesus and to experience his miraculous ways. Yet Jesus was unworried. He knew that he could care for all these people and many more. Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish with enough food to spare. Their needs were cared for. Our needs sometimes are more than the physical needs. Sometimes our needs are of the spiritual nature. The people who followed Jesus were there not because they were hungry and needed food and water. They came because they hungered for the word of God. They needed something to help build up their faith to give them the strength they needed to face the struggles of their lives.
This is no different for us. Sometimes we too need to feel the presence of the Holy in our lives. Sometimes when we are going through hardships we need to know that the Lord is providing for us even when we can’t feel his touch upon our hearts. We need to know that when we are challenged that we can seek out Jesus as those five thousand individuals many years ago and find strength and comfort, the care that we need. We need to know that we can find the type of care that we may not be able to find from other people in this world.
We need to know that Christ is leading us forward and that he already knows our troubles before we have even come to him in prayer. He knows what our needs are and is already working to provide for those needs. God’s care is much deeper than what any of us can truly put into words. But those of us who have witnessed it, felt it and experienced it at work know just how powerful it is. When we experience God’s abundant care, it can completely change our lives. It did for my friend. Her life has changed tremendously and in a good way and she is happier, healthier, and in a much better place as a person of faith because of His care.
God will care for us in abundant ways. We may not always know how He will answer our prayers and we may not recognize God’s hand in our lives until later. But Christ’s miracle from today’s scriptures is a reminder to us of how God provides for those who seek Him out. Our souls are not going to be left hungering and thirsty but our spiritual needs will be provided for. So as we prepare for another week, as we ready ourselves to return to life in this world, our every day list of things to do, we are being challenged to remember how Christ fed five thousand with only 2 fish and five small loaves of bread. Christ can take any little bit of faith, any small experience and use it to strengthen us spiritually and to transform our lives for the better. So our challenge is to have faith that God is at work even when we can’t see Him, even when we are unsure as to how He will provide for us. We are to continue to journey in faith trusting that the Lord is caring for us in all the experiences of this world. We are being challenged to believe in the work of God even when it is hard to do so.
(Sermon based on 2 Kings 4: 42-44 and John 6: 1-21).