As I have become a mother and especially now a mother of many, there is one passage imparticular in the Gospels that always seems to speak so loudly to me. The honest truth is that when I had two children I was overwhelmed and felt it was more than I could handle; then when I found out I was expecting a third, I thought it was surely a mistake. I was already too tired and our finances were so tight, that I surely believed there was no way that God would send us another baby; what did I have left to give? Now that we have five, I have seen God do miracles.
This morning as I was reading the Gospel of Mark, I came across the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. This passage always seems to restore my weary soul. Early on in Mark 6 Jesus had sent the disciples out two by two to preach the Gospel, cast out demons, and heal the sick. There is then an interlude in the chapter about John the Baptist being beheaded and then after the story it says, “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while’.”
Jesus saw how weary the disciples were and he wanted to give them rest. If I was a disciple, I would have really been looking forward to that desolate place. The disciples get in a boat to go to the other side of the sea, but instead of showing up to a desolate place, they show up to a great crowd. In my flesh I would be hoping that Jesus would send them away and give me this rest he had spoken of, but instead Jesus feels compassion for the people and begins teaching them.
I know as a mom there have been many times I have been so weary that I want to scream, especially in the phase of a newborn and sleepless nights. I feel that truly there is not one more night I can do this. In my flesh there have been times I wish I could send my children away and rest. As mothers though, our heart goes out for our children and we see that they are sheep without a shepherd, looking to us to feed them and teach them and lead them. God fills our heart in theses weary moments to have compassion on our children and continue to pour into them even when we think we have nothing left to give.
After a long day of teaching and the sun is starting to go down, the disciples suggest that Jesus send the crowd away so that they can buy something for themselves to eat. Jesus replies, “You give them something to eat.” They don’t have enough money to buy food for the crowd, so Jesus suggests they look around and see what they do have. All they find are two loaves and five fish. How in the world will they feed five thousand with two loaves and five fish? How in the world will I provide and care for another child with the time, energy, and resources I have? I am already tired, my budget is already maxed out, and you Lord are asking me to give myself to another child?
But Jesus, takes the loaves and fish and looks up to heaven and divides them among all the people and they all ate and were satisfied. Jesus intercedes on behalf of what the disciples did have to offer. Jesus is our high priest interceding on what we have to offer as well. He takes our resources we do have, offers them to God the father and multiplies them and satisfies our children. If we look around, we will feel we will never have enough to give. But if we take what we have and give it to Christ and say, “This is all I have to offer,” he will take it and multiply it and make it enough. Jesus is the shepherd of our children and he looks on them with compassion and desires to provide their every need.
After the crowd eats, there were twelve baskets left over of broken pieces of bread and fish. There were twelve disciples. Each disciple then got his fill of bread and fish. They pressed on beyond the point that they in their flesh could handle and they were filled with food and replenished. Jesus does the same for us as mothers. In those moments we feel we can take no more, he gives us everything we need. I remember times when I felt I would never sleep again and then a few nights of solid sleep would be provided to restore my body. I know times God has miraculously provided money when we least expected it. There have been days where I have been filled with patience and joy to continue to pour out to my children when my flesh was weak.
May we expect to see Jesus do miraculous things as we offer what we do have to him. Just as he cared for the disciples and wanted to provide rest for them, he cares for us. Just as he multiplied the fish and the loaves, he multiplies what we have. May we not say, “I am done I have nothing left to offer,” we may be robbing ourselves a great blessing and missing seeing God’s miraculous hand at work.