(He said this to test Philip; actually He already knew what He would do.) John 6:6
Lord, You know everything about me and everyone who will ever exist. You know our hearts when we don’t even know them. You know what’s going to happen ahead of time. And yet, even in the midst of all Your knowing, I still have free will. And because You love me, and each one of us, You give us opportunities to bring our will, that free will, in line with Yours. And sometimes, those opportunities bring us into tough situations, situations where faith is born.
This is one of those situations. You went up on a mountain because this great multitude of people was following You. They had seen Your miraculous healings. Plus, it was almost Passover so a lot more people were in the area. It wasn’t by mistake that You went up the mountain and sat with Your disciples where they could see this giant multitude of people below. And it wasn’t by mistake that You asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people?”
It wasn’t by mistake at all. But it was by design. And Your design was to increase the faith of Philip, and each of the disciples. Your design is always to draw us closer to You and to increase our faith. And one way You do that is to draw us into hard situations that make us “prove” that faith. And that’s the word the King James Version of the Bible uses. “And this He said to prove him.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that means to prove or test someone “for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself.” And we need that. At least I do.
I need that because I don’t think I’m much different from Philip or Andrew or Peter. I know I’ve been put in uncomfortable situations, situations that were overwhelming or I didn’t feel prepared for or that were just plain difficult to say the least. And I’ve asked, “How can I do this?” And I’ve also answered like Andrew and replied, “Well, I have a little here but how can that help?” And then I feel like Peter when I say, “Lord, I would die for You!” But then there are some situations I crumble in. So why do I have to go through these tough times? I thought being a believer was supposed to be easy street. Well, no, I never really got that idea but it is voiced out there. But You never voiced that idea.
What was the idea you shared? Well, straight from Your own mouth later in John, you say, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” And Lord, thank goodness that You desire to prepare us for the reality of life. Because this word for tribulation, “thlipsis,” is about the really hard stuff. This is pressed grape hard. You are warning us that real “crushing” stuff will come into our lives. We can expect it. We can expect difficult circumstances, immense pressure, suffering both physically and on our souls. We can expect things that want to weigh down our spirit, burden our heart, or crush the life out of us.
Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? But we live in a spiritual battleground ever since the fall when Adam and Eve both chose their way over Your way. But a soldier knows the risks when he signs up. He knows that he is preparing for the battlefield. And that’s what happens when he enlists. He’s put into tough situations. Talk to any Marine. You aren’t made ready by being taken out to five course meals and movies. You are taken through trial after trial until You know how to handle each one. You are taken through trial after trial to be strengthened and prepared. You are taken through trial after trial to change the way you think about tough things. You are taken through trial after trial until You realize that You can persevere and that You are an overcomer. Then you are ready to be a soldier.
So, You, Jesus, ask Philip, “What are we going to do here?” And Philip’s reply is, “How can we do anything?” But the testing hasn’t stopped. You have to take them through the experience all the way. And Andrew hears and offers, “Well, I don’t really know how this will help but here’s this boy’s lunch of fish and bread. It’s all we have to offer.” And then You teach us that when we see a need, we can take what we have, and place it before the Lord, and He will meet that need. You took a situation that seemed like it was overwhelming and impossible to accomplish, and showed that in You, nothing is impossible! And it’s not just about me thinking I see a need. But You showed the need. And whenever You see it as a need, You will fulfill it. I just need to get on board with You. I need to come to You. I need to learn that I can persevere and that I am an overcomer in You.
Well, most of us don’t learn all at once, just like the guys in boot camp. Even the disciples went through this feeding the masses scenario a second time and seemed to forget the first. But isn’t it easy for me to forget what You’ve already brought me through? Isn’t that what I’m doing when I get afraid or stress about not being able to do what You are asking me to? Well, that’s just like a disciple, isn’t it? But the more and greater testing You put me through, the deeper the faith and trust and understanding is implanted. I don’t have to run away from tough situations now. I can look at them expecting You to do great things. I can look at them expecting You to draw even nearer and me ever nearer to You. I think that’s the best part. In the toughest times, the times of my greatest testings, You’ve been the closest. So the hardest times have been the most wonderful times with You.
Lord, I want to thank You for being honest with me. You tell me that if people mistreated You, they will mistreat me too. And that’s true. It happens like that sometimes. But because You prepared me, even though it hurts, I’m not surprised and I can handle it rightly because You have taught me how. And You have warned me that hard times and pressure are going to be a part of my life. It doesn’t mean You’ve left. You actually draw nearer during those times as I draw nearer to You. And I thank You for how You have shared with me the learning process of these other believers, who sometimes didn’t pass the test with flying colors either. But You never give up on us. Because Your goal for me is to bring me to be an overcomer in You. And in You, I will be.
May You be my strength in every trial and under every pressure. May I be so dependent upon You that no matter the intensity of the struggle, nothing could rip my grasp from You. Teach me to look at every situation through eyes of faith. May I learn how to overcome from the greatest Overcomer ever, You! Lord, test by test, make me an overcomer just like the ones You commend and have molded in Revelation so that no matter the intensity of the pressure or trial, You raise me above it in You. To Your glory and for the benefit of others, Lord, teach me. Lord, I need You to mold the real me into what I need to be. Use whatever You have to in order to do that.
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