By Beth Ann Olesen
As I work through the book of Mark, I keep coming back to a specific passage:
And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Man, I just keep reading it over and over, each time more and more aware of my afflictions. At this point, I think they boil down to two.
Just like the disciples, Covid-19 has apparently left me with amnesia. I have seemingly forgotten God’s provision in the past, which prevents me from trusting in His provision now.
I was so frustrated (ahem, pot calling kettle black) at the disciples for forgetting that less than fourteen verses previously, they watched Jesus feed four thousand people with seven loaves and a few fish. And there were leftovers! Side note: as a girl who grew up in a big family with siblings who were significantly older than me, seconds or leftovers are a really big deal.
But in between the food being distributed and the leftovers being collected is a beautiful simple sentence: “And they ate and were satisfied” (Mark 8:8). Not only did God provide, but He provided in a way that pleased all who were there. Every want and need was met.
Right now, my wants and needs seem vast and sometimes suffocating: rest, patience, energy, quiet, wisdom, time, connection with extended family and friends, understanding, peace.
And my wants and needs feel compounded by the wants and needs of the four other humans I live with, who require something of me almost every second of every day. It leaves me running to the pantry to stuff chocolate in my face behind a closed door so I don’t have to share, or hiding in my closet so I can cry or scream.
I am so focused on not having enough bread that I have forgotten that I have never once been left hungry by God.
This is not to say that I believe that every desire I have will be given to me. Not at all. But despite what I think I want or I think I need, I know that God will provide exactly what I actually do want and need. And I will be satisfied. So when I feel like reaching for the chocolate or leaping for the stairs, what I really need to remind myself is that God’s provision has always been, and will always be, more than enough.
I also seem to have developed myopia in the past however many months we’ve been under the stay-at-home order (please refer back to the amnesia). My nearsightedness, my inability to see past the immediate and sometimes consuming worries and demands of the present, prevents me from stepping back and seeing the larger picture. Similarly to the disciples, I have eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear.
This time is hard. While we have been blessed with health and job security in these past few months, this time has not been without its challenges and struggles. And sometimes it is very difficult to see past those struggles. To see how the Lord is using this to build His kingdom. To see how He wants to use us to win hearts and souls for Him. To see the work He wants us to do right in our own houses with our own families in our own circumstances. This time is hard, yes, but it is absolutely part of God’s plan and purpose, and for His ultimate glory.