Have you ever doubted that God cares?
I definitely have. It’s like you know He’s there, and He’s all-powerful, you just doubt He’s as concerned about what you’re going through as you are.
The break up.
The loss of a family member or a friend.
An unemployment situation.
An empty bank account.
We know He’s all-knowing, but somehow He seems ridiculously absent and uncaring in those situations. We ask, if you really cared so much, why did you let this happen? Why put me through this? Why let me follow you all this while and still allow me to have to endure this? In our minds and our hearts, we see God as removed from our problems while they’re actually happening – as someone who either comes in to save the day, or not.
Sometimes it’s hard to fathom in our storms that God is moved by what we’re going through – and sometimes we don’t even think He sees. Because how can a God who sees our pains and obvious needs allow us to wallow in them?
Today let’s take a look at the feeding of the 4000 that was recorded in Matthew (15:29-39) and Mark (8:1-10).
We all know this story. Jesus takes a couple loaves of bread and fishes, blesses them, and feeds the multitudes who had come to him for healing. What we forget is that Jesus was facing his own storm during this time. He has just lost his cousin John the Baptist, beheaded by Herod in a bid to please a woman. The Bible says Jesus retreated to a remote place to be alone. Being fully human meant Jesus felt pain and heartache just like we do, and so the grief he felt having lost not only a brother, but the man who had both paved the way and ushered him into his ministry.
Matthew tells us specifically:
After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus’ feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them. When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them.
But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.”
At about this same time he again found himself with a hungry crowd on his hands. He called his disciples together and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart. They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they’ll faint along the way—some of them have come a long distance.”
As I was reading these passages, it occurred to me that no one ever told Jesus they were hungry. No one begged for food. They had come for healing, and they’d received that. But in some weird way, Jesus knew more about what they needed/would face than they did. And he was concerned with them
There are a couple of truths that stand out to me in these passages that you can meditate on:
- God’s never finished with you. He didn’t just heal the people and keep it pushing. He cared about their every need. He doesn’t look away after He’s done one thing in your life. His eyes are constantly on you, looking to work in your life.
- God knows your storm. He knows your hunger.
- He knows that you may have stuck by Him for a long time, and knows that it makes no sense to you that you should have to go through the storms you do given your faith in Him. He knows that walking with Him means you may encounter storms that you are not equipped to handle alone.
- He knows you’re a long way from home.
- He knows that without His help, you may succumb to the storms in your life.
- And His heart hurts in your pain
That last one hit me hard. When we think of a god, we don’t think of one who feels pain – much less identifies with ours. But we know from reading this chapter that Jesus was both well-acquainted with pain, and so very aware of the hunger these people were facing that it broke His heart to see them have to deal with that.
It’s even more astounding because often, our fellow men, like the disciples, don’t really seem to care about our storms as much:
His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?”
I know we often go to other people in our storms because we feel they are better able to… empathize with what we’re going through. But human beings can be fickle. They are limited in themselves and so limited in their ability to identify or help in your storms. But God is more pained to see you go through your storm than any human being could ever be.
And so the story goes on that he performed a great miracle and fed these people:
Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. After Jesus sent them away, he climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills.
Whew. Won’t He do it lol
I’m sharing this because there is something about knowing God’s heart in your storm that helps you to trust Him to lead you out of it. You know because He hurts as much as you do, He won’t ever let you endure it alone, or beyond what you can bear. Because He feels exactly what you do, you can trust that He cannot let you remain there indefinitely.
I’m gonna end this one off with this poem from the blogger Ijeoma Umebinyuo that really yanked at my heart strings when I read it, and I think sums up my message that God shares your heart in your storm: