BY BECKY KEIFE
As you surrender this year to Him, trust God to multiply your resources.
Growing up, my dad gave us a calendar every Christmas. He tried hard to pick a theme my sisters and I would enjoy. I’d unwrap the clear cellophane and happily hang the new calendar on the corkboard above my bedroom desk. Blank shiny squares waiting to be checked off with joy.
As a kid, New Year’s meant excitement for new beginnings. But what if a new year doesn’t always usher in fresh hope? What if the calendar squares are already overflowing with too many must-dos, and New Year’s resolutions just feel like obligations that will never get checked off an endless list? How can we welcome another 12-month cycle with energy and expectation when we’re still spinning from the last with no foreseeable reprieve?
Hope and excitement crash into anxiety and fear. I’ve been there. I often am there. Struggling under the weight of responsibilities entrusted to my care — being a wife, raising three kids, working from home, going to graduate school, serving in ministry — it can feel daunting to consider doing more, doing better. It’s hard to embrace the grace of new beginnings when the pressures of present circumstances leave little white space.
I’m reminded of a story characterized by similar emotions. I’m sure you know it too. A massive crowd gathered to hear the miracle-working Teacher speak. The day began with high hopes and the thrill of answered prayers; Jesus showed compassion and healed the sick. But the reality of their decision to track after Jesus soon set in. They were in a remote area. It was getting late. There wasn’t enough food.
“Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food,” the disciples said.
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat,” Jesus countered (Matt. 14:16).
Scripture doesn’t say, but I’m guessing there were a few eye rolls and exasperated sighs. Seriously, Jesus? His disciples must have thought. You’re asking the impossible. Your command is laughable, outrageous. But they replied with the facts: they had five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand men and likely an equal num- ber of women and children. He’s got to see the direness of this situation and demand an immediate evacuation!
Instead, Jesus directed the crowd to sit on the grass and called for the meager meal. “Then he commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of leftover pieces” (Matt. 14:19-20, emphasis added).
What does a miracle of multiplication have to do with how we start a new year? Pretty much everything if we want to model our lives after Christ.
Surely the disciples weren’t the only ones feeling strained at the end of a long day. This story comes on the heels of Jesus learning of the gruesome death of John the Baptist. Jesus was distressed. He tried to escape with His friends to rest. But the needs of others followed Him; the responsibilities of His calling pressed into Him. His gut reaction could very well have been to send the crowd away. Let them fend for themselves. I’ve done enough for today, He could have thought.
But Jesus shows us what it looks like to press into God. He embraced an overwhelming situation as an opportunity to trust His Father. First, Jesus accepted what was available. Then, He gave thanks for it. Last, He broke it, changed it, inviting God to remake it. We can do the same with our new year. When demands are high and our urgent needs are too much for us to handle, we can offer God our lack and thank Him for the way He can fill in the gaps.
Not only did God turn five measly loaves into enough food for thousands, He made it more than enough! God transformed a total deficiency into total satisfaction. When there’s a discrepancy between what we have to give and what is needed, we can trust God to multiply our resources as we surrender the outcome to Him.
I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in this way time and time again. When I didn’t know how to write that term paper or deliver that message, when I felt ill-equipped to fix a hard parenting issue or come alongside a grieving friend, I could look up to heaven and pray: Lord, thank You for the work You’ve given me to do and the people You’ve given me to love. I don’t have what it takes to resolve this concern. I can’t strive hard enough. My strength and supply fall short. I trust that You see each need and will work on my behalf for our good and Your glory. Amen.
Whether you ring in the New Year with excitement or dread, let’s make 2018 a year marked by greater dependency on God. May we resolve to trust Him more, with gratitude for the ways only He can multiply and satisfy.
Becky Keife is a writer, speaker, mama of three spirited boys, and editorial coordinator for (in)courage. She loves capturing the grit and beauty of ordinary days, and encouraging moms in the thick of it. Connect with her on Instagram @beckykeife.
This article originally appeared in HomeLife magazine (January 2018). For more articles like this, subscribe to HomeLife.