Week 4: Life in an hopeful World
Jesus doesn’t ask for perfection from his disciples; he asks for us to listen and trust as he works both in us and through us to help others. To experience God’s hope and share that hope with others, we can reflect on the reality that we are made in God’s image, we can re-center ourselves by spending time with God, and we can reconnect with our circle and faith community.
In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus’ disciples had just gotten back from a journey he’d sent them on to preach the Kingdom, call people to repentance, and cast out demons. They were tired and hungry, so Jesus intended to get away so they could get some much-needed rest.
But the crowds following Jesus around saw them leave and followed them. On the other side, they ambushed Jesus and his disciples. Instead of shooing them away—it was chill time!—Jesus taught them late into the evening.
The tired, hungry and exasperated disciples told Jesus it was time to send them away so everyone could go get themselves something to eat. Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.”
The disciples hadn’t even had time to care for themselves! How were they to care for more than 5,000 hungry people?! Plus, all they had were five loaves and two fish.
Jesus was in a much better place to take care of them himself, yet he still recruits his weary disciples to care for the crowd. Instead of leaving them to their own devices, however, Jesus gives them the tools needed to accomplish this daunting task.
Jesus broke the bread and the fishes and gave them to the disciples who dispersed it to the crowd. Everybody ate their fill, and yet the leftovers filled twelve baskets!
It’s debated if Jesus was the sole miracle performer, or if the disciples—or even the crowds—had some part in carrying out the miracle. What is clear is that Jesus worked through his weary, tired, irritable disciples to care for others.
In order to feed the crowd that day, and to do the many miracles their circle would eventually do, Jesus didn’t ask for perfection from the disciples. What he needed was their trust.
Here are some things we can learn about ourselves through this story:
1. We are made in God’s image. That means we are uniquely crafted to reflect and even share in God’s power. The disciples—and maybe even people in the crowd—were empowered to do the same work as Jesus in this story.
2. We are made to know God. When we’re focused on listening to God, the pressure to be perfect or do everything “right” doesn’t matter so much. In order to work in us and through us, what God needs is our trust, and our initiative to follow through. We’re not called to get results—we’re called to obey and leave the results to God.
3. We are made to be connected with others. It was the way the disciples worked together that enabled them to offer help and hope to those around them. We are at our healthiest—and our most powerful—when we really see each other and begin working with one another.
When our life starts to feel unsteady—whether we’re anxious about food or rest or what we’re supposed to do next—we can reflect, re-center, and reconnect.
REFLECT on the fact that we’re made in God’s image. That means we’re uniquely designed to experience God’s power ourselves, and then reflect that power to others.
RE-CENTER by spending time with God. We’re made to know God. And when we’re focused on listening to God, the pressures of the world around us don’t matter so much. The Daily Replay can be a habit that brings you back into that space each day where you can listen to what anxiety is trying to tell you, and experience a sense of hope that brings freedom to you and others around you.
RECONNECT with our circle. We’re made to be connected with others. We are at our healthiest—and our most powerful—when we really see each other and begin working with one another. Just like in the passage, it’s how bread—and hope—get spread.
Meet with someone from your church who somehow gives you hope, and talk with them about how reflecting, re-centering, and reconnecting helps them be hopeful. As God’s people, we are welcomed into a large circle of people just like us who want to follow Christ, let God transform their lives, worship together, and serve others. Getting to know people in our community will help you know that you never have to handle struggles on your own.
Who can you encourage today or this week? Think of a way you can spread the power of hope by reaching out to someone and telling them how much they matter. Perhaps you can simply look them in the eyes (unless this is a text or call!), say their name, and say “You are made in the image of God.” How else can God work through you as you help meet someone’s need, and in so doing communicate their unsurpassable worth?