OK, so I made a shameless reference to the classic rock and roll song. It’s a good way to get your attention, but it also leads me to look more deeply at a very familiar Bible story. I have even written about it here previously (See Pirates, Loaves and Fishes). It’s the great story of Jesus feeding 5000 men (plus women and children – but who’s counting?) with a couple of fish and some loaves of bread. Let’s look at that story again as found in the Gospel of Luke:
On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:10-17, ESV)
What struck me personally and powerfully this time was the little phrase, “And they all ate and were satisfied.” They were satisfied! That means that they ate enough – not just to get by until they got to town or they ate enough not to grumble or they ate a few morsels. Jesus did not provide just an appetizer. No, they ate enough to be satisfied! They were full and content. Here are some other words for satisfied: content, pleased, fulfilled, gratified, happy.
To me that says something about the way Jesus provides for our needs. He is not stingy or minimalist. He provides to satisfaction. So I had to ask myself, “Am I satisfied with everything Christ has provided in my life?” Sadly, I had to answer, “No”. So I went on to ask, “If Jesus really does provide enough, then why am I grumbling about some things? Why am I not satisfied?” I realized that the problem certainly isn’t Him, so what’s up with me? If this is the life He’s given me, the job He’s given me, the church He’s put me in, the ministry He’s assigned to me, the friends and colleagues He’s surrounded me with, then that must be enough to satisfy and it’s time to stop whining and start appreciating. So I did – start appreciating, that is – and it completely changed my outlook on my life. It truly is possible to be satisfied with everything that Jesus has provided up to this point in my life. I was astonished.
Now let me quickly add a disclaimer or two. First, I am not talking about staying in an abusive or unhealthy relationship or situation. That is never ok. Second, I think there is a holy dissatisfaction that comes from wanting more of God in our lives. No matter how close we get, we will always want more. I’m not talking about that either. Instead, I want us to get to the point where we can see and acknowledge all that God has provided and say – truly say – “It’s all good.” If we can’t, then we must ask ourselves what is causing the dissatisfaction. Do we have unrealistic expectations of what a Christian life should “look like?” Is it because I’m not getting my way or things aren’t going according to my plan? Am I seeking my satisfaction in stuff or in other people instead of Him? Am I simply unwilling to actually accept that this is my life? Will I not acknowledge that everything comes from Him? Do I not trust Him to be good to me?
Some pretty tough questions. All of which I had to ask of myself. But in the end, I had to go back to that story in Luke. They all ate and were satisfied! Jesus provides abundance not meagerness. Jesus provides full-of-joy-ness not sparseness. So I looked at my life again. I looked at all that surrounded me and the people populating my life and I found myself contented, gratified – satisfied, because I finally realized that He provided enough.