Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The Battle of the Very Great vs. Nothing

There's an epic battle going on in many people's lives. Maybe that includes you. It's the Battle of the "Very Great" vs. "Nothing."

You know, like when a problem is "very great," and you've got nuthin. You feel like there's nothing you can do. It's overwhelming. It seems insurmountable. The "very great" always overpowers "nothing." Not much of a battle, it would seem. 

That is, until Jesus shows up. In Mark 8:1, we're told that "In those days..." ...Wait a minute... What days? Well, how about the days Mark was just writing about in Mark 7 where he wrote, "And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, 'He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak'" (Mark 7:37). "Those" days! "In those days," there was a battle raging: the Battle of the "Very Great" vs. "Nothing." Mark described "the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat..." (Mark 8:1). There's the battle! The multitude was very great in number, and the food was scarce. Worse than scarce. There was "nothing to eat."

Perhaps you're facing a situation where a huge expense is worrying you, or a major health issue has caught you by surprise, or a relational difficulty feels hopeless. Whatever the challenge is that you're facing, it can feel "very great." I know because I've had that feeling.

But then Mark continues: ""In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 'I have compassion on the multitude, because they have... nothing to eat" (Mark 8:1-2).

If you're in the Battle of the "Very Great" vs. "Nothing," you need Jesus. He makes all the difference. He clearly sees the situation, and he knows how overwhelming the challenges feel to us. He also sees how small our resources are, and he lovingly longs to intervene.

But we might look at Jesus and say, "How can anything be done?!" That's what the disciples asked. They asked, "How can one satisfy these people [4,000 people!] with bread here in the wilderness?" (8:4). And you might be asking, "How can I cover these huge expenses, or solve this health issue, or resolve this relational difficulty with the nuthin that I've got?"

Jesus is calm through it all. He simply asks, "What do you have, however little it may seem?" As a bustling multitude of 4,000 people crowded around him, Jesus calmly asked his disciples, "'How many loaves do you have?' And they said, 'Seven.'" (8:5). In other words, Nuthin. Not enough to feed four thousand people! But Jesus still told those 4,000 people to have a seat – it's chow time. It's time to show all these people how much God loves them.  

Perhaps Jesus is asking you what you have. It seem as small as seven loaves for 4,000 people. It may be a shrunken bank account. It may be an empty parking space that comes with your apartment but doesn't come with a car! It may be nothing more than a small act of kindness you can offer to an estranged family member. Even your prayers may feel like a weakened cry to a God who seems far away. 

Jesus can do something big with anything small that's offered in faith. When Jesus arrives on the scene in the Battle of the "Very Great" vs. "Nothing," he can multiply your "nothing" until "they ate and were filled" and there was much "leftover" (8:8). So in fact, the "very great" does not always overpower "nothing" – not when Jesus shows up.

So bring Jesus your seven fish today. Bring him what seems like nothing. And even if your faith feels weak, bring that and ask him to multiply that too! He doesn't reject us for having our doubts. The disciples had their doubts as they objected to Jesus' desire to feed a multitude with nothing. But that didn't sway Jesus. He loves us too much for that. Bring him your nothing, and let him leave you "astonished beyond measure" in these days as well.

© 2023 Ken Peters

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