One of the most unique miracles recorded in the Gospels happened in a grassy field away from towns and villages. Jesus was teaching a large crowd and recognized their hunger. Jesus took the little they had, blessed it, and fed the crowd of 5000 with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Impossible, yes. Yet not impossible for the Bread of Life.
Later that same night, the disciples were rowing a boat across a large lake in a significant storm. They were already tired from travel and the crowds that required their attention everywhere they went. And their Master insisted that the cross the lake to the next place of ministry. But they had to get there first. The storm was threatening their safe passage.
In the middle of the lake and in the middle of the night a ghost appeared walking on the water. But it was not a ghost. It was Jesus. He saw their struggle and came to them. With the utterance of a simple command the storm stopped and Jesus climbed in the boat with the disciples. He told this alarmed disciples, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.” And they were amazed, not by Jesus walking on the water or by the calming storm, but by what happened the day before. “They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves” (Mark 6:51-52 NLT). They were stuck in yesterday’s problem. They failed to see that their hope for today just climbed in the boat with them.
How many times have we done the same thing? We have a more pressing issue, good or bad, and yet we are still stuck in yesterday’s problem. Maybe all we can see are the waves – waves of grief, waves of stress, waves of difficulties, waves of deep need, wave after wave. Maybe you are overwhelmed by the emotions of yesterday and now exhausted by the storm in the night. Here is the good news: in the same way that Jesus came to the disciples in the darkest hour of the night in the storm, we have Hope with us today. “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”
Just as Jesus employed his disciples to distribute bread and fish to the crowd of 5000, and today he continues to use his people to meet needs and to share hope. So often it is the smallest acts that have the biggest impact. An open hand and an extended arm speak volumes about availability and willingness. A kind word and a listening ear offer more encouragement than nonstop chatter. A thoughtful response to an adversary may build a bridge better than justice alone.
I’ve seen this in action in our community. I’ve seen hope climb into the boat of those struggling through the storms. In a day in which the opposite action gets the headlines, let’s continue to create a new headline of healing in a broken world. Let’s be the action that we proclaim. Let’s offer hope to those in hopelessness. May our lives be a reflection of Jesus’s words and actions, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”
This appeared in The Sheridan Press on May 17, 2019. Support your local newspaper!