Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. John 6:5-6 NKJV
You lost your job, your child is sick, you have cancer, your spouse left you, your best friend betrayed you, you have no food in the cupboard, your car broke down, the mortgage company is coming for your house.. Let's face it, life happens. And we often find ourselves with problems that seem IMPOSSIBLE to solve. In fact they seem insurmountable. There doesn't seem to be a way out.
That's what Philip thought when he saw over 15,000 people heading toward Jesus. These people had been out in the wilderness without food or water all day long while Jesus spoke to them and healed them. But now it was evening, and surely these people would faint from hunger if they tried to go home. But what to do? Neither the disciples nor Jesus had any money. And no one had enough food for everyone. Can you imagine what was going through the disciples' minds? Especially when they looked at Jesus and saw the peace in His eyes and the smile on His face?
So often we come to Jesus when tragedy strikes, when we don't know which way to turn and we want Him to perform some great miracle and fix all our problems: heal our child, give us a job, drop money out of the sky! Lord, help!! Yet, Jesus simply smiles at us and says, "What are you going to
We see from the Scripture above that Jesus was testing Philip. He wanted to know how much faith Philip had. He wanted him to think back on all the miracles he'd seen Jesus preform, all the times Jesus had come through in the end. He wanted Philip to realize that feeding these people wasn't going to be a big problem for Jesus. He wanted Philip to find peace in the problem.
But I think Jesus also wanted something else, something He wants from all of us when trouble strikes. He wants us to take what action we can to solve our problem first. Yes, we should come to Him, but we should also do what we can in the natural before expecting Him to perform a miracle.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” John 6:8-9
I doubt this kid just walked up to the disciples with his meal. I expect that the disciples went through the crowd, searching for food. When they'd asked everyone, they came back to Jesus to tell him what they'd found.
Lost your job? Pray and then go looking for a new one.
Child sick? Pray and then seek medical help
Car broke down. No money to fix it? Pray and then do what you can to fix it yourself or find a friend who is a mechanic
In other words, God wants us to us the brains He gave us, to go as far as we can in the natural, to do all that we can do and then come back to Him and tell Him what we've done, how much we've accomplished. And then let Him handle the rest! Let Him perform a miracle.
Example from my own life: When the Lord told me to write a Christian Pirate Romance some 8 years ago.. I thought I was hearing things! But, Father, I've never written a novel before! I don't have an English degree, my grammar is terrible, I don't know what I'm doing! And I could have stopped there in defeat. Or I could have told God. Okay, but You have to supernaturally help me write it! Instead, I got every book on writing I could and every book on pirates and I read them cover to cover. I joined online writing groups and critique groups and I learned and learned and learned. And then I wrote. Did I feel like quitting? Often! Did I feel like I was over my head? Yes, Drowning!! But I kept going until I had a complete novel. I entered it in contests, I hired an editor, and then when I had done as much as I could do in the natural, I submitted it to agents and publishers and told the Father, now do with it as you see fit. I got a contract withing 3 months (unheard of in the industry). It was truly a miracle! But God only performed that miracle after I was obedient to do EVERYTHING I could in the natural.
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, John 6:10-12
Perhaps we should apply this in our own lives when a need arises:
- First, think back on all the times the Lord has provided for you, all the miracles, the times when you thought you'd never make it. (It's a good idea to keep a journal of these things so you don't forget)
- Pray with all your heart
- Then, go do what you can in the natural. Go as far as you can, do as much as you know how or God leads you to do.
- Lastly, bring whatever you've accomplished to Him.
- And then expect a miracle!