There is an incredible story that unfolds in John chapter 6. As Jesus is teaching and performing miracles many come to watch. They are stirred up by the signs they see Him do. You know the story. Jesus takes the simple meal of a small boy and feeds all 5,000 people gathered. And then He quickly left the scene because they wanted to take Him by force and make Him their King.
That night Jesus walks on water. The next day many of the crowd who ate the miracle fish got in their boats to go find Jesus. Once they found Him He called them out. “You come to me because I satisfied you with bread and fish. Don’t work for the food that wastes away but for the food that lasts.” The people question Him, then they complain about His answers and eventually they argue with Jesus about His responses. Jesus told them that He was the Bread of Life and unless they drank His blood and ate His flesh they would have no part in Him. When He said this the majority of them left saying “This teaching is too hard! Who can accept it?”
Right now we are facing one of the largest challenges we’ve faced in years. Medically we are standing off with a virus that we cannot see and have no cure for. Financially we are looking down a black hole. We’re only a few steps in but we’re not sure how far we will have to go before we can get out. Mentally and emotionally we are racked with fear and loneliness. Depression is threatening many of the people in the world because of the lack of human contact and no promise of nearness coming anytime soon. Make no mistake this is a dark spot. But there have been millions of Lights shining brightly in the dark.
In the last month we have witnessed individuals making medical masks and teaching others to do so. We’ve seen people going out of their way to creatively support local businesses. We see families gather nightly for meals and family time. People have been forced to be at home and much good has come from that. Church attendance has soured. People are gathering for online Church services who haven’t physically gathered with the Body for years and are hearing truth and being encouraged. Spiritually we climbed a few rungs with the Lord over the last few weeks. Why? Because we are desperate and we have cried out to Him. Every time we cry out to the Lord for help He hears and responds. Every time.
Enter my words of caution. I fear we are growing accustomed to our new normal. As we grow comfortable we lose our desperation and stop crying out the Lord. As the new weirdness becomes more normal we stop turning to the Lord and start trying to figure out life on our own again. Either this is reality OR we have determined, like the Hebrews who left Jesus in our story that God has not acted as we thought He should and we are going to try some other source for our rescue. I pray neither of these are the true but I fear we are seeing them creep in.
We must remain vigilant in the fight! We must not lose the ground we have gained! We must continue to look to the only One who can see tomorrow; the only One who knows how and when this virus will stop; the only One who can safely lead us through. Just days ago we were desperate. We must continue to cry out! We must not be like those who chased Jesus down and then abandoned Him because they didn’t fancy His answers.
When the large group left Jesus the 12 stayed. Jesus asked them “You don’t want to leave too, do you?” Their answer stops us in our tracks. “Where would we go, Lord? You alone have the words of life.” That simple statement provides so much insight into their hearts. Their “Yes” was a simple “We’re hanging in there because of You.” The word today is equally simple. Hang in there! Don’t give up! Jesus alone has the Words of Life! He alone is our rescue! Yes, the night is dark and it just might get darker. Jesus is our only source of Light! Yes, I know it is incredibly difficult facing so many of these challenges alone. Jesus is our closest companion. Trust Him as the Way! I know finances are a huge question right now. Jesus is our trusted Provider! He can and will meet every one of our needs if we will ask Him. Don’t stop crying out, folks! Now is the not the time to jump and run. Now is the time to take another step toward the One who will carry us.
When we draw near to God things do not get easier. That was never promised. What was promised is the burden we carry and the obstacles we face will be mixed with joy. We are asking lots of hard questions right now. It would be just as easy as the folks in our story to opt for easier answers than God’s. He says “draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” That may not put money in our bank account or health in our bones but it makes those needs pale in comparison with what He offers. His Presence is our prize. If we can learn to be satisfied in Him right now we could gain the world and we would opt to give it back if only we can keep the Lord. He offers so much more than fish and bread. Stay in the circle. I promise you’ll be glad you did.