Jesus took the bread, gave thanks to God, and distributed it to the people who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, and they all had as much as they wanted. John 6:11
I’m so glad that You’ve been inviting me to just stay on that mountaintop with You. I mean, this isn’t like one of those “mountaintop high” experiences. This is like the time that my brother and I hiked to the top of Mary’s Rock on Skyline drive and then we just got to sit at the top. And I had time to look down and be peacefully amazed at Your creation. And I could look up and just peacefully and restfully think about You. And it was just good to be there and relax and be grateful. Not to mention the fact that meditating on Your Word was what gave me the strength to keep going and make it up to the top no matter how tired I got.
And spending today with You up on that mountain again with Your disciples and the little boy who offered his fish and loaves of bread has everything to do with gratefulness too. There is that multitude of people. I mean a mass of people. And I thought it was kind of funny, and it made me smile, that You had John mention, “there was a lot of grass there.” But maybe it’s not so funny that You had him mention the lot of grass for a lot of people. That little detail is something in itself to be grateful for. What if they all had to sit in the dirt? But maybe You planned that mountaintop to speak from just so there would be plenty of grass for the people to sit on. It mattered in Your Word enough to be mentioned, maybe it already mattered to You before anyone else even thought about it.
So, Philip doesn’t know how to feed all these people sitting in all that grass. And Andrew brings the boy with his gift but doesn’t see how that will help. But You take the gift, command them to have the people sit down, and then pray. But the thing I’m focussed on today is how You prayed. Now, I don’t have a word for word account here of what You said. But, I believe that You gave me what I need to know so I can be amazed by You and so I can follow Your example in my own life. Well, how did You pray?
John 6:11 says You, “took the bread, gave thanks to God, and distributed it to the people who were sitting there. [You] did the same with the fish, and they all had as much as they wanted.” You gave thanks to God. That was Your prayer. Now I don’t know Your exact words. I don’t know if You gave the Hebrew blessing which is a prayer of thanks or if You gave thanks in other words. But the point is, You gave thanks.
The Greek word used here is “eucharisteo.” It literally means “thanking, thankfulness.” There are other types of prayer too. Gary W. Fick of United Prayer Tower came up with a list of nine different words for types of prayer. They include these types of praying: supplication, praying; petitioning, written request; the cry, beseeching; entreating, settling; calling upon, invoking; visioning prayer, asking; intercession, interceding; and interceding beyond words. But “eucheristeo” doesn’t mean those things. It means gratefulness.
You didn’t petition, beseech, invoke, or intercede here. You demonstrated to me the power of gratefulness, of a truly thankful heart. Which brings me to a couple more stops in Your Word. Paul in Philippians 4:6 instructs me to not “worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.” He goes on to say in Colossians 3:15 “The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful.” It’s tough to have peace in hard situations like being asked to feed over 5000 people. But true peace seams to be tied in with this thankfulness. And Paul hasn’t said it enough yet. Now I go to I Thessalonians 5:18 where he tells me “be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.” Wow, thankfulness in “all circumstances.” Can I do that? And then Paul shares in Hebrews 12:28 an admonition to “Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please Him, with reverence and awe.” Now the interesting thing about what Paul is sharing here is that he has just finished sharing how everything is going to be shaken and removed and then he ends with how our God is a destroying fire. This is gratefulness in the midst of terrible stuff because God is more worthy of reverence and more awesome and more dangerous than the worst of the destroying fires I could ever go through. It’s all a matter of my perspective.
So, how did You handle “impossible situations”? You gave thanks. Precept Austin says, “eucharisteo” “describes a person who is depending on God’s grace moment by moment…as one’s lifestyle, a life only possible under the control of the Spirit.” That’s the kind of life I want. That’s the kind of life You want for me. Precept Austin continues to share that “giving thanks indicates the obligation of being thankful to someone for a favor done…in Colossians, Paul uses the present tense which calls for giving thanks to be our lifestyle, our natural (supernatural) response to all the people and circumstances which God allows or sends into our lives. Of course the only way to accomplish this supernatural end is by means of reliance on the filling (control) of the Spirit, not by reliance on natural means!” And I think he has that right on target.
“Gratefulness comes out of a heart that is desperate. One that has reached out to God and God has, in His love, responded to him. That is where thanksgiving comes from…Only the people who depend on Him appreciate Him and are thankful…Thanksgiving is a product of a spirit-filled heart. When you are filled with the Spirit of God, you are grateful for that which God is doing in your life. It is a lifestyle. It is constantly having a thankful heart, just a grateful heart.” These are some thoughts shared by Dr. Wayne Barber. I don’t really know who he is, but I agree with him on these thoughts. But it doesn’t matter if I agree with him. What matters is what You think matters. And gratefulness matters to You.
Well, Lord, there are a lot of things that You have placed in my life that can seem overwhelming. Sometimes others don’t respond as I hoped they would. Sometimes things don’t seem to make sense or turn out the way I envisioned. But that is not to be my focus. Lord, teach me to keep my focus on You, the God who is a Destroying Fire, not because You destroy, but because You are greater than all these things that seem overwhelming. You ought to be the only thing in my life that overwhelms me. I have no right to give that place to anything else but You. So I will only be overwhelmed by You. You are the only One worthy of that place.
And since You alone are worthy of being the Overwhelming One, I will be continually grateful as You overwhelm me. I will trust in You and by Your power and Your reminders I will be grateful whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.” I will be grateful and give thanks to You in the hard times and the good times. But You are going to have to reshape me to do this. It’s not natural for me to respond this way. It’s not easy. Make me totally dependent upon Your Holy Spirit and may Your Holy Spirit have His way in me to teach me to be grateful always and in every situation. I want to be continually overwhelmed in You not because of what You are going to do, but because of Who You Are. Because everything You have done and everything You will do all flows from that. Thank You, Lord. Thank You that You are always my God. Thank You that You are already at work. Thank You that You call me to join in with You. And let my thanks be more than words. Let my life be a demonstration of my gratefulness.