I’ve found myself lately asking this question: Am I overwhelmed by the realization of the constant need around me? And my answer today would be yes! And I have a feeling that I’m not alone in feeling this way…
In Matthew 14 we are told that John the Baptist has just beheaded by Herod, and John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened and that’s where we pick up the story…
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
You and I are not blind to the needs of this world and I’m not blind to the needs of “my world” either. However, and I admit to you today, that I am paralyzed by the vast needs that are all around me.
There are times where I truly hope that someone else will take care of those needs that I so clearly see. And sometimes, I’ll even admit, that I have a hard time trusting in the real Provider to meet those needs that I face.
The need is great and yet, I know in my heart of hearts that I serve a great God who takes much delight in meeting the needs of His people. Even when Jesus wished to draw away, to mourn the loss of John, to grieve and to be renewed it was the constant demands for His miraculous touch and His life giving words that was still needed.
And His response to this demand so gets me. He chooses to have compassion. And his choice, His compassion, was infectious.
His disciples see the peoples need for food, and they are ready to send them away, to take care of their own needs, and Christ challenges their paralyzed compassion by telling them that yes, someone needs to do something about the need, and that someone was them.
So as I am reading this story…
I’m realizing that Jesus wants to treat my paralyzed compassion.
I’m realizing the He wants to take my limits and my unbelief and transform my mindset about what I have to meet the needs that I daily see and face.
A pastor once told me, “Where there is plenty of God, there is plenty of everything else.”
God calls us to share generously. The disciples kept passing out bread even though they knew they didn’t have enough, and then at some point, they realized how God was providing for the need that they were paralyzed with.
The need was greater then any solving they could do on their own and Jesus took their compassion paralysis and healed it with His compassion.
Where I am weak, where I lack, He is great. He is strong. He will provide.
So since we know this truth now, what will we do with it? Since we know that God can heal our lack of compassion with the greatness of His, what will we do now with it?
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” [Ezekiel 16:49-50]
When you or I face the needs of this world, during the inconvenient times and when those great needs find us somehow, will we continue to be paralyzed by them?
Will we continue to sit there and wait for someone else to do something? For the last few weeks I feel as if God is treating my heart and this compassion paralysis issue in me. The Holy Spirit has been saying to me, “Nick, give to me what you have in faith, in obedience and in love, to see then Me, your Savior, at work in a miraculous way.”
Nothing will happen unless we participate. Can I just share with you today that you are a valuable part in God’s plan in reaching the needs of this world. Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” So don’t let those opportunities to meet the needs around you pass you by anymore more.
(Adapted from my journal entry on August 8, 2008 while in Kiev, Ukraine after our morning with devotions with Pastor Tonya from Moscow)