by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
What if your greatest need, your greatest challenge, strategically leads to your greatest blessing?
My mind likes to shoot straight to fear. When our car breaks down, or our daughter struggles, or someone I love experiences a health challenge, I’m tempted to forget. To forget that God is with me, with us. To forget He’s ever present, certain and true. That His love is big enough to cover every need and hurt. But most of all, I’m tempted to forget that He is in my difficulty, using the situation to reveal hidden lies lurking in my heart. Shining His light on what is diseased in order to bring life and light to what’s gone dead.
For years, I felt food-insecure. Even with a full pantry and well-funded savings account, financially, everything felt uncertain. I remembered my time wandering the street of Tacoma, eating potatoes, and let’s be honest, consuming large quantities of malt liquor.
My vision from that time was selective, distorted. I remembered the hard more than God’s hand. And so, I lived in fear. Fear that, at any moment, the life I’d created—that I thought I’d created—would unravel.
In essence, I made much of myself and little of God. I placed my husband’s paycheck, or working car, or our checking account in place of my faithful Provider. Yet, in the deepest recesses of my fearful heart, I intuitively knew that none of those things had the power to carry me. But in focusing on all those lesser, powerless, ever-shifting provisions, I forgot who has always been holding me.
My focus on the “bread” hindered my view of the “Baker,” and this kept me from resting firmly in His embrace.
This was precisely what happened some two thousand years ago, when Jesus and His disciples encountered a large crowd of hungry people. We likely miss the magnitude of this situation as most of us have never truly been food-insecure. When we want something to eat, we run to the store or hit the nearest restaurant. But for ancient humankind, hunger was a real and pressing concern.
And so, seeing the crowd was hungry, Jesus said to Philip, one of His disciples, “You feed them.”
To which Philip replied, in essence, “Um, what?”
“Philip answered Him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’” (John 6:7, NIV).
Peter responded in much the same way, saying “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8, NIV).
In that moment, their need felt huge, and, it appears, their God felt small.
Have you been there? I have, but the Lord never chastises me or turns me away. Instead, He draws me close and says, “What you have is enough, because I, Who always am enough, will make it enough.”
That’s precisely how He responded to His disciples. He told them to have everyone sit down. Then “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (John 6:10-11, NIV, emphasis added).
Notice: Jesus didn’t just feed the people enough to hold them over until they could find another meal. He gave them as much as they wanted, an over-abundance, because He is the God of abundance. He alone, not our jobs or our paychecks, will meet our needs.
In the middle of your struggle, what lies are rising to the surface? That God doesn’t care? That He won’t provide for or protect you? That He’s distant or not listening?
What does truth say?
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? and yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear: you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 NASB
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.
Join the conversation: What are you facing today? What might God be showing you through it?