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Opinions of Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Columnist: Daniel Gyebi

You give them something to eat

This article is about you. You may not have it all; no one does, but you have more than it takes to make a difference in someone else’s life. You can bring a positive change if you focus on doing what you can with what God has given you instead of what you could or should have had.

As a Christian, you need more grace to exercise, by faith, the sometimes dormant authority and power that God has given you to do good unto others. You are more likely to succeed if you do not let the big picture overwhelm you and thereby neglect the small things you could have done.

These are some of the neglected lessons from the miracle Jesus performed when he fed five thousand men (Mark 6: 30-44). You may have heard or read that Jesus, using five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish, literally turned a remote place into a free, open-air, bread and fish buffet restaurant or an all-you-can-eat picnic, and fed five thousand men leaving a surplus of twelve basketfuls of bread and fish. This is not ancient history. Jesus can do it again today because he is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Many people do not pay attention to the conversation that preceded the miracle. While Jesus was busy teaching the crowd in a remote place, the disciples noticed that it was getting late and the people were hungry because they had been there for a very long time. The disciples told Jesus to send the people away to the nearby villages to buy food to eat. However, Jesus told his disciples: “you give them something to eat.” The disciples questioned Jesus how they could bear the huge financial responsibility equivalent to a person’s eight months wages. Jesus asked how many loaves of bread they had and they found five and two fish. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up to heaven, gave thanks, and broke them to feed five thousand men.

The disciples were compassionate enough to recognize that the crowd had been with them for a very long time, so they must have been hungry and needed food to eat. However, because of their limited resources and lack of faith, they did not recognize that they could do something about it, other than simply sending them away to fend for themselves.

Jesus, on the other hand, knew that the disciples were capable of doing more than they thought they could. He knew it partly because a few days earlier, he had sent the disciples on missions, in pairs, to go and preach the Gospel and had given them authority over evil spirits, and they had come back with positive reports to Jesus about how they preached to people, cast out demons, and healed the sick (Mark 6:7-13). The disciples were on fire for Christ. Yet, they did not have enough faith at that time to believe that they could satisfy the hunger of the large crowd.

Jesus showed the disciples the way. Jesus showed them that you can pray and give thanks to God and for God to multiply the little you have to satisfy the needs of many. While this may sound strange to some people, Christians walk by faith – faith in Jesus, faith in the Holy Spirit, and faith in God Almighty -- and not by sight. As a Christian, you should not lose courage or be overwhelmed by problems and say there is nothing you can do. There is always something you can do for yourself or others. You have a powerful weapon called prayer; please use it. Call on the name of Jesus and bring the problems to him because in the hands of Jesus, miracles happen. You can pray, encourage, counsel, support, comfort, and share.

And so don’t be too quick to give up on a problem or pass on responsibility to others at the first opportunity. Jesus has empowered you and has some confidence in you. God works through people like you, and so you can be a channel for God’s blessings to others. Make a difference because you can, and don’t sell yourself short. In Christ, you have more resources to satisfy the needs of others than you think you have, and you can do more to help them than you think you can. Therefore, you should pray to God to give you the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the heart and love to feel those in need; and the faith to believe that you can do something positive about them.

Don’t think too highly of yourself, but don’t underestimate your God-given abilities, either. You may not be able to solve world hunger, or feed five thousand men, but you can share the food you have with a hungry person next door or a person you meet on the street. You should take a cue from the Prophet Daniel that “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Daniel 2:28). With that in mind, your attitude should be that if God has revealed a problem, issue or mystery to you, then He will provide a way for you to handle it. Follow God’s guidance and see what He will do through you. It is like the modern day safety slogan: “you see it, you own it.” That is, if you see a dangerous situation, do what you reasonably can to reduce or eliminate it.

Focus on what you can do. Do not focus on the large crowd of people and let the size and complexity of the problem overwhelm you, but focus on the five loaves of bread and two fish or the limited resource you have. That was what young David did when he faced the giant Goliath. When David was facing Goliath, the Israelites were focused on the size and strength of Goliath and were overwhelmed. David, on the other hand, was focused on his sling, the five stones he picked from the stream, and the Lord Almighty. He knew that the battle was the Lord’s. The battle is still the Lord’s. And so in the name of the Lord, you give them something to eat.

With God, little is much. Consider your contribution as part of team work. Do your part and others may take it from there. For example, the loaves of bread for the miracle were baked by someone. The barley used in making the bread was planted and harvested by someone. The two fish were caught and fried, cooked or prepared by someone. The firewoods for baking the bread and cooking or frying the fish were cut, gathered and carried by someone. The bread and fish were carried to the remote area by someone, and it was the disciples who brought the hunger situation to the attention of Jesus. Interestingly, the persons involved in some of the processes had no idea that they were part of the supply chain that resulted in Jesus performing the only miracle that is recorded in all four Gospels.

Taking it a step further, you can provide spiritual food of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to a world hungry for salvation. You should not think that it is the sole responsibility of priests, pastors, preachers, and the general clergy to spread the Good News. They cannot do it alone. You need to brighten the corner where you are, and let God’s blessings flow through you.

In the end, this article is about all of us. Whatever good things we have were given to us freely by God. Therefore, giving to the needy, without any expectations of rewards, is good in and of itself. However, our good deeds may not be wasted. Jesus promises that if we give it shall be given unto us, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over (Luke 6:38). Let’s give our talents, treasures, and time to help others.

Who knows? Perhaps, the person you help could be Jesus himself, as the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at Jacob’s well in Samaria experienced when Jesus asked her for a drink of water, and she did not know it was Jesus (John Chapter 4). Jesus also said that as we do it to the least of his brethren, we do unto him (see Matthew 25:31-46). If you give your neighbor something to eat and he or she gives to the next neighbor something to eat and the giving goes on, who said we could not, together, feed five thousand men in addition to women and children?

Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.