O God, Whose never-failing Providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech Thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
--Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
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 now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.”
Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
And they said, “Seven.”
So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
--Mark 8.1-10 NKJV
Today's Gospel reading is the account of the feeding of the four thousand. What is most remarkable to me about this miracle is not the miracle itself--though it is certainly amazing--but the fact that the disciples, having just witnessed the feeding of the five thousand not long before, are at a loss to simply come to Jesus and ask for help. This is the second time a crowd needed fed, but the disciples act as though they had never been in this situation before and are as stumped as ever.
We, too, many times are slow to respond in faith, as though God has not lavished his grace upon us and helped us countless times in the past. We, too, have hard hearts and blind eyes that fail to see that God is desirous, willing, and able to help us in every time of need. Thankfully, as with the disciples in this passage, Jesus graciously continues to give his gifts to us, in spite of our slowness or faithlessness. Thanks be to God for his unrelenting mercy!
O Gracious Hand that Freely Gives (Arthur Tozer Russell)
O gracious Hand that freely gives
The fruits of earth, our toil to bless!
O Love by which the sinner lives!
Let every tongue that Love confess!
Our God for all our need provides;
His sun alike o’er all doth shine;
From none His glorious beams He hides;
So rich, so free, His Love divine.
Again this Love our garners fills;
This Love again let all adore:
The cry of want His bounty stills,
Who biddeth all His Name implore.
O may our lives through grace abound
In holy fruits, and Thee proclaim!
Let all Thy courts with praises sound
Thy gracious hand, Thy wondrous Name.
Lord, when Thou shalt descend from heaven,
Thy ransomed harvest here to reap,
O in that day Thy joy be given
To those who now go forth and weep.
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash