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Surrounded by Need. Full of Compassion (#GrowDeep)
by Rey Diaz
Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Everyone has hit that point before, at one time or another - the point of total exhaustion, where you have given and given and given, and have no more to give.  You’re overwhelmed.  You’re peering into the chasm on the edge of burn out.  Your emotional, physical and spiritual tank is beyond empty.

You feel like you have been rung dry.

It’s easy to feel that way in the world of orphan care.  Every need is urgent.  Every request is an emergency.  Many times life and death are, literally, hanging in the balance.  The needs are never ending.  There is no finish line.  There is no point where we can sit back and say, “we did it! No more orphans.”  No matter how much we work and serve and love and sweat, we can not change the reality that we live in a broken world and until God returns to fix it, we will never run out of work to do and evil to battle.  No matter how much money we raise or sermons we share or tears we wipe away, the need will still be there in the morning.

Despite this truth, we can all continue serving His children in hope because we serve the God of miracles. Our heavenly Father loves to sustain us when we are tired and carry us when we are weak.

This weariness and demand was the everyday life of Jesus and his disciples.  Imagine the hot and dry desert climate.  Imagine the crowds.  Imagine the yelling and shoving.  Imagine the desperation among the poor whose one and only hope was to interact with this man, Jesus.  The gospels are full of stories of men and women engaging in desperate acts, just to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Rich men climb trees.  Older women push through throngs of people.  Blind men yell incessantly.  Friends tear apart a roof and lower a friend.  These people had a never-quenching need that drove them to respond in ways that was out completely out of character and in opposition to their culture.

Mark 6:30-44 tells a story that can speak into the everyday pressures we face.  The passage describes a desperate people.  They are following Jesus in the hot climate late into the day.  After receiving the tragic news of his cousin’s murder, Jesus leaves by boat.  It's time to call it quits - it has been a long day for both Jesus and the disciples.  Imagine how many people had waited all day just to be healed, blessed, baptized or set free and now they are watching Jesus float away on a boat.  These people were not giving up this easily.  They followed Jesus by land.  The author uses the adjective “hurried."

Were they running, jogging, sprinting?  Were moms carrying their sick child in hands as they ran to Jesus?  I don’t know.  I do know that the crowd must have been hungry after waiting all day and then chasing after Jesus.

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Jesus sees the crowd and is moved by compassion (vs34).  This is a powerful word that has a long history in the Old and New Testaments.  It means Jesus has a deep, visceral response to being surrounded by the need of the people.  This is the same sensation that Good Samaritan felt when he saw the man bleeding by the side of the road (Luke 10:33).  It’s the same thing that moved the father to run towards the prodigal son and invite him back home (Luke 15:20).  And it's why the King forgave the bankrupt servant when he could not pay the debt (Matthew 18:27).

Whenever you see this word “compassion” brace yourself for what is about to happen.  A miracle is inevitable and imminent.  Which is exactly what happens in this story.

Jesus is surrounded by need. And He is full of compassion.

5000 men were there that evening.  Scholar have estimated that including women and children, it could have been closer to 20,000 people.  They are hungry, and there is not enough to go around.  It’s impossible to feed so many with only 5 loaves and 2 fishes.

Impossible, meet Jesus. 

Jesus grabs the loaves and the fishes and then He does something counter-intuitive.  Instead of complaining about not having enough or asking for more or stressing out about the situation, Jesus thanks God.  The bible says He blesses the bread.  According to Jewish tradition, a common blessing before a meal would be something like this - “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth” (m. Ber. 6:1)[1].  Jesus thanks God and acknowledges that every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17).

This story carries a unique distinction.  It is the only miracle that is included in all 4 of the Gospel stories.  This miracle was a reminder - a reminder of God supernaturally providing manna in the wilderness.  During that time God wanted to teach the Israelites and us an important lesson – God is enough.

I believe that is a lesson for all of us who have dedicated ourselves to serving the orphan and the vulnerable.  We will never be enough.  But God is enough.  Lets shift our perspective and Thank Him for all He has already done.  Lets thank Him for every child in ministry programs and every family that is experiencing transformation.  Lets thank Him for every dollar He has provided.  Lets thank Him for every partner He has brought along to walk with us.  Lets thank Him for every miracle along the way.

I remember the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of scavengers in the Honduras garbage dump.  A quick glance and calculation told me the truth, that we did not have nearly enough food.  I panicked.  I stressed.  I thought, “These people are going to eat me alive.  There will be riots.  They will never allow me back inside.”  We ran out of provisions.  People complained a bit but then went back to work.  An elderly lady came up to me, asking if we had any more food for her.  My eyes welled up with tears because I did not want to face my limitations.  Although I didn’t reply, she saw my inner struggle, patted me on the back, and said something I have never forgotten.

She said “Dios proveerá."  God will provide.

She turned around and went back to the garbage dump to scavenge.  James, who told us about true religion, also told us that “God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith” (James 2:5).  That day, God reminded me of His provision.

God is enough.  Me plus God is enough.  You plus God is enough.  The beautiful thing about that formula is that God doesn’t need us.  But he invites us to work with Him.  While we are working tirelessly, He whispers  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 10:28

[1] Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 232). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


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