11th Sunday after Pentecost
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may over flow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Dear friends in Christ, We like to be in control, to be able to plan things, don’t we? Imagine having planned the perfect vacation. A luxury cruise. You’ve researched, read the reviews, picked the best cruise ship available, picked the perfect dates to go, planned a schedule for each day of the trip, paid the cost in full months in advance, and have everything in order. We like to not only have things planned out but also have those things happen exactly the way we planned them, don’t we? We like to be in control of things, but it doesn’t take long for us to realize that there’s a problem. We aren’t and can’t always be in control of all circumstances, there are things in life that are simply out of our control, things that we can’t determine. Your planned vacation is all set and you’re ready to leave…when… all of a sudden there’s a huge hurricane, like hurricane Irene, headed right for the location of your cruise! All of a sudden everything changes.
Yes, there are things in life that are simply out of our control. We don’t like this, we fear the unknown and dread the unexpected; we like to have things figured out, planned out, but there are so many uncertainties in life, aren’t there? Who knows, a health trouble could strike us out of the blue…a tragedy could happen to us or someone we love…someone we relied on could fail us…a source of income could suddenly end. Just like we can’t control the weather there is plenty in our lives that we can’t determine. So, if we can’t be in control, then we will inevitably face circumstances we can’t avoid.
So if there are things in our lives we simply can’t control, then the real question we need to ask is not so much if we’ll be faced with circumstances out of our control, but: What do you do when it happens? Where do you look when tragedy hits? Where do you go when loss or trouble strikes? If we’re not in control, where do you turn in times of crisis? Where do you look?
Well that’s the question the disciples faced. Jesus had recently heard of the death of His forerunner, John the Baptist. Herod, the ruler, at the whim of his daughter had God’s great prophet murdered. So Jesus meant to take a boat and cross the lake out of Herod’s territory in order to get some rest in an isolated place and teach His disciples one on one in private. But as he set out the people who had seen him do many miracles traveled on foot through the towns along the shore of the lake to the other side where Jesus landed. When He saw the crowds of people the Son of God had compassion on them and healed their sick and taught them about the kingdom of God. But when evening came that’s when it happened, nobody planned on it, the crisis hit. It’s getting late, there are thousands of people, crowds of people who had come out to this isolated and remote place and there was nothing to eat.
The disciples were faced with a crisis, what do they do? Where do they turn? Ah! But wait, they’ve got it! Send the crowds away! Send thousands of people away to walk the several miles to the nearest small village to overwhelm it with hungry people? No. Ah! But maybe the disciples should travel to the nearby villages to buy food for the crowds! But wait, they knew their math…there’s no way they could buy enough food for each person to have a single bite. “But I know! Maybe we should ask around and pool our resources and perhaps we’ll have enough for a little snack for everyone…what do we got?” Well, they could tally their meager resources and among the thousands of people all they could find was a boy with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish. How far will that little bit go among so many! Yes they faced a crisis, where do they turn? Where do they go?
How might we have solved the problem? If you were there what option would you have given in this crisis? Well, let’s look at our own lives where is that we look in times of crisis? What solutions do we have when we’re the ones facing difficulty, loss, danger, trouble, inadequate resources? Where do we go? Where do we look when things are out of our control, when we’re faced with a crisis? Most of us are probably so blessed that we aren’t wondering where our next meal will come from. But what do we face? Big things. We face the constant threat of losing our health, getting sick, getting into a car accident. We face things like losing a job, a source of income, or a major expense. We face things like sudden tragedy or loss of a loved one. We also face “little” troubles. Where do we turn when we face things like problems at work, broken relationships, arguments? Where do we turn when anything negative happens in our lives?
Well, we have options right? “Well I know. I’ve been here before. I’ve faced many a difficulties in my day, this is no different, I’ve got thick skin, I’ll tough it out, I’ll make it through on my own, I’ll figure it out. I’ll find the answers on my own. I’ll trust myself to get through this one.” But wait…my resources are limited, I can only do so much, when I trust myself that’s when I fall flat on my face. Where do we turn when things are out of our control? Well, maybe something to make me feel just a little better, or my possessions or my friends or my _________? But, they too can only do so much for us, they can’t fill all of our needs, they too at times will let us down. So what do we do? Where do we go? Where do we turn?
Perhaps the question is not so much: “Where do you turn when things are out of your control?” Perhaps, the real question is: “Where else would we turn when things are out of our control?” There is only one place. There is really only one place to turn!
Listen with the disciples who that One and only place is, “Bring them here to me.” The only place to turn is the same one who miraculously fed well over 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The only place to turn is the one who provided food in abundance to thousands at the time of need! The only place to turn is Jesus, who says to you, “Bring them here to me.”
When the cares and concerns of life seem insurmountable, when we struggle in times of need, when we face times of crisis, where do we turn? To Jesus who says, “Bring them here to me.” When we face the emotional mountain of day to day life or the tragedies of having lost a loved one or having been sinned against, where do we turn? To Jesus who says, “Bring them here to me.” Jesus cares about your day-to-day needs. Jesus has promised to provide for your physical needs. He promises to provide your daily bread, food, shelter, clothing. He’s promised to provide for us through the work of our hands and His gracious goodness which causes things to grow and food to be produced on earth. Jesus cares about our physical needs. And just like Jesus here provided for over 5,000 people He also provides for us graciously and abundantly!
And think about it, even if all Jesus promised us was to provide for our physical needs, to give us what we need for this earthly life, which is certainly far more than we could earn or deserve, then we’d have every reason to thank and praise, to worship and glorify Him our whole lives. But Jesus hasn’t just promised to provide for our earthly needs…has He? He’s promised us something much, much, much more. Yes we’ll face crisis’s on this earth, we live in a sinful world that is full of sinful people who sin and we are one of those people, but it’s when we realize the greatest crisis that we could possibly face, the crisis that we are sinful and that sinful people cannot exist in the presence of a holy, perfect, righteous, sinless God. This crisis is completely out of our control. And thank the Lord that it is…rather it’s in the control of someone far better… that same Jesus who could miraculously multiply morsels of bread…that same Jesus who in His almighty power was able to feed thousands with five loaves and two fish…that same Jesus is the true Son of God who came to this earth for a much higher purpose than providing food for the needy…that Jesus came in order to live perfectly in every way because sinful people can’t…that Jesus came to suffer and die in the place of sinful people…and that Jesus came to rise from the dead and declare the ultimate victory over sin, death, and hell for YOU! So even when you’re facing your final “crisis”- the end of your life here on this earth, even then Jesus says, “Bring it here to me.” In Him we place all of our trust because it is He who has provided us with eternal life with Him in heaven.
So when problems come…and they will…take it to Jesus in prayer! When loss or trouble comes, trust in Jesus to provide! If God has provided for your most important need- your salvation- how will he not also provide for your day-to-day needs as well? If God is for us who can be against us? Yes, nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ…in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us!!! Amen.