Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Genesis 50:15-26, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Mark 8:11-26
Imagine you are Jesus. You’ve just miraculously fed four thousand people with no more than a few loaves and fishes. Not long before that you fed a greater crowd with fewer resources. Now you are in a boat with your disciples trying to use a parable about yeast to warn them about the pharisees and Herod. After a few minutes of pondering what you mean, they decide you are upset because … there is only one loaf of bread in the boat. If you were Jesus, would you have been a little frustrated that no one could seem to get past the lack of bread?
Are we wiser than the disciples? Do we treat every challenge like it’s the first one, or do we learn from our faith journey? No matter how many difficulties we’ve experienced, when new ones arise it can be hard to remember what we’ve survived. If God has seen us through illness, addiction, or betrayal are we able to trust He will see us through the newest crisis on the horizon? It’s not always easy, especially when we face the unfamiliar. Our first reaction is usually fear. But as the disciples eventually learned, trust in God can displace the fear. Trust may not completely eliminate the fear – we are only human! – but it changes our understanding of it. The trick is to remember that to God, this struggle is no worse than the ones that have come before.
Even the “best” lives are not free of challenges. As our faith matures, we begin to recognize huge challenges that didn’t register as important before. Issues of injustice, for example, become more obvious and less acceptable to us. If we can accept that life will never stop throwing us curveballs, that we have not failed because our lives aren’t perfected, maybe we can stop being surprised and devastated by them. If we are more in control of our reactions, we can surrender our troubles to God that much sooner. Some days we may ask how the bread could possibly be enough, but God is leading us to the bigger questions.
Comfort: You are not going through anything that God can’t see you through.
Challenge: When you are frightened by challenges, say prayers of thanks for all the situations God has already brought you through.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for being with me in all situations. Forgive me when my fear interrupts my faith. Teach me to trust in you always. Amen.
Discussion: What things upset or frighten you because you can’t control them? Are you able to turn them over to God?
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