Life can come at you fast. One minute, things seem to be under control, and you feel pretty good about how things are going. The next minute something happens that turns your life inside out. Have you experienced anything like that? I have.
I’ll never forget a phone call I got from my sister a few years ago. I was enjoying a visit with some close friends in North Carolina. The phone rang; it was handed to me; and I heard my sister say that our father had passed away suddenly in his sleep. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I went from being incredibly happy to being heartbroken in a mere moment.
When we experience an unexpected challenge, it’s tempting to fall into despair and feel like life is out of control. What can we do at a time like that? Let me share with you the way Jesus showed His disciples how to face an overwhelming problem.
For most of the day, Jesus had been preaching to about 15,000 people out on a hillside. The sun was about to go down, and everyone was hungry. The disciples came to Jesus and said, “This place is desolate, and the hour is already late; so, send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves” (Matthew 14:15). Then Jesus shocked them by replying, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” (Matthew 14:16). What? They must have thought Jesus was kidding. All they could come up with were five small loaves of bread and two fish. How was that going to be any help?
Sometimes it seems as if God is asking us to do the impossible. A loved one of ours has passed away, or a close friend just learned that they have a terminal disease, or we no longer have a job, or a friend has betrayed us—and then we hear God say things like, “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Why would God ask us to do something that is humanly impossible?
Jesus had a good reason for asking the disciples to feed 15,000 people with next to nothing. He wanted to show them what He can do. If we pay attention, we can discover what the disciples learned that day. Jesus told them to give all the loaves and the fish to Him (Matthew 14:18). That is the secret!
You see, nothing is impossible when we put it in Jesus’ hands! Jesus went on to prove it by taking one small lunch and multiplying it to feed thousands. That demonstrated the truth that Jesus “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Pastor David Jeremiah explained, “The sweetest taste you will ever have is offering what is in your hand to God and watching Him multiply it and make a difference.”
What God requires of us is our complete trust. The disciples had to surrender all the food they could find to Jesus in order to see His power. When we feel powerless, broken-hearted, or like we can’t go on, God wants to use difficulties to show us what He can do in our lives. We must give everything to Him instead of turning back to things that have failed us many times in the past.
Pastor and author Timothy Keller explains, “Putting our faith in Christ is not about trying harder; it means transferring our trust away from ourselves and resting in him.”
The biggest impossibility we have in our lives is rooted in our sinfulness. Deep in our hearts, we know that we are weak. We know we do not measure up to a holy God, and that we cannot have the close relationship that our hearts long to have with our Creator.
When we sense the burden that our sin has caused us (and will cause us), Jesus invites us to, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Do we really believe that? If “in [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7), then we can trust Christ to do the impossible. Jesus can wipe away our sin forever. Paying for our own sin (apart from spending eternity in hell) is impossible. When we are willing to trust Christ to pay for our sin, though, He can do what we can’t. Jesus is willing—and able—to completely take care of the entire penalty for our sin. His death on the cross made that possible.
Rev. Charles Spurgeon said, “God does not need your strength: He has more than enough power of His own. He asks your weakness: He has none of that Himself, and He is longing, therefore, to take your weakness, and use it as the instrument in His own mighty hand. Will you not yield your weakness to Him, and receive His strength?”
I would like to challenge you to give your whole life to Christ and to trust Him to do the impossible. Trust Him to forgive your sin forever. “When you were dead in your transgressions [i.e., sins] … He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Colossians 2:13).
Whatever is overwhelming you in your life, give it to Jesus. Read the story in Matthew 14:13-21. See how Jesus can use all that you give Him to take care of you and many others. Let Him work miracles in your life too.