In John 6, we have the beautiful retelling of Jesus feeding the five thousand. It is a story many of us are familiar with. It is a perfect example of provision, of not enough becoming more than enough, of God defying circumstances to reach His people. The moment of the miracle is beautiful in and of itself, but the dialogue surrounding it is what stands out the most to me.
I have always found it interesting when we see Jesus asking us a question He already knows the answer to, because we can be sure that the answer is for our benefit. It is to teach us something or reveal something we may not have considered before. Later, after Jesus would rise from the dead and appear before Mary Magdalene, He would ask, “Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15).
God asks Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).
Both times, He knew the answer.
But had either Mary or Adam taken the time to consider the answer to His question?
Did Mary know whom she was seeking?
Was she seeking a man defeated by death, or the Son of God who defeats all darkness?
Did Adam understand where he had been, where he now was, and the separation that now existed between himself and the Lord?
God often asks us questions not because He needs an answer from us but because we need one from Him. And the answer always leads back to Him.
Andrew replies to Jesus after Philip says they don’t have enough money to buy food for the people, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:9).
What are they for so many?
Jesus will answer this question not in words, but in action.
And the answer is everything.
In Jesus, the little becomes everything, becomes enough.
In Jesus, five loaves and two fish become more than enough for five thousand people.
In Jesus, not enough becomes everything we’ve ever needed because Jesus is everything we’ve ever needed. We may wonder how we are to face the valley that lays before us, and the answer is Jesus. When we are starving and lacking in resources, He provides. When we feel trapped between sea and army, He will crack the waters in two. When we are weeping at a grave, longing for any other companion besides grief, He is there to call our names and comfort us. When we are hiding in our sin and shame, wondering where on earth we are and how on earth we got here, He is the guiding hand that interlocks with ours to lead us back to Him. In every moment of suffering, of loss, of confusion, He is always the way out; He is always the answer.
Yet still we fall into despair.
Despair breeds despair. We despair in our despairing and find ourselves in an endless dance we don’t remember agreeing to, a routine that steps on our toes and leaves us spinning dizzily, grasping for a center of gravity lost in the chaos of the moment. It’s hard to get our bearings, hard to remember who He is, whom we seek, and where we are.
So how do we remind ourselves who He is? How do we live a life of abundance and rest in knowing that He provides all that we need? I’m convinced that at least one of the major ways to reorient our hearts and dwell in these truths is through the continual, intentional practice of gratitude.
Writing down the things we are grateful for is one of the simplest ways to cement the goodness of God within our minds. From something as big as the people we love, to something as small as the sunbeam that catches our eye every morning. It is all glory, it is all a gift, and it all contains praise that He is worthy of having echoed back toward Him. In the front of my notebook, I keep a list of “gifts.” I believe I am at gift 108 right now. I try to write down 3-5 a day but will add more intermittently throughout the day as they come. I have found that the more I write, the more I want to write. The more gifts I notice, the more they seem to jump out at me throughout the day, and the more I am amazed at all the wonderful gifts He provides for me. It is like building a signal fire of grace-filled gifts, leading the way to a grace-fueled life:
61- for early morning worship, alone in my car,
watching the sun peak over the horizon.
67- for cinnamon candles on icy nights.
71- for a day of endless laughter.
73- for joy-in-the-morning glories—
the splash of orange sunsets, chased by
sparkling stars and vibrant moon.
76- for the old man who sits next to me at lunch,
smiling and working his crossword puzzle.
79- for “how are you doing?” texts.
82- for out of nowhere bible verses called to
mind in the middle of the day.
Thanksgiving binds up our broken hearts; thanksgiving heals.
When I was a child, I asked my mother what the name of the “flowy tree” was.
A weeping willow, I was told.
Once I named it, I saw it everywhere. Weeping willows, their branches flowing like rivers, seemed to have grown up overnight. It is easy to find something when you name it, when you’re aware of it, when you’re looking for it. It is easy to find despair when you’re looking for it. It is easier to find good gifts of glory when you’re looking for them. So, look for them. Look for Him, and all of who He is. All of this happens when you know who you are thanking. When we saturate our hearts and minds in who He is, we are better equipped to see Him working and providing in even the smallest details of our lives. Remind yourself every day whom you seek, who He is; He is the Provider, He is your Protector, He is kind, He is gentle, He is loving, He is gracious, and He is enough.
In Him, not enough is everything.
In Him, tears are wiped away, sin is clothed in righteousness, and despair is but a whisper in the wind.
In Him we lay our trust because He is good.
When we look for Him and know who He is, we find everything we’ve ever needed.
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