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In His mercy, God sometimes creates a vacuum of need in otherwise comfortable lives. In that vacuum, many become desperate enough to shed their pride and seek a Savior. That’s what happened to Naaman, who was cushioned from the reality of the world and the sin in his heart. But when that proud, successful man ran out of options, his hopelessness drove him into the arms of God.
I think the materially comfortable—the Naamans of today—could actually be another unreached people group, right under our noses. They drive expensive cars, wear nice clothes, and appear to be happy. But many are miserable. Driving home in a BMW or Suburban doesn’t make it easier to face a crumbling marriage. Living in a big house doesn’t help your teenager get off drugs. A large bank account is little comfort when Alzheimer’s slowly steals your spouse from you.
Material comfort and earthly success can be like Bubble Wrap, protecting people from the hard reality of their situation: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). To remove the obstacles of wealth and prosperity, God sometimes allows problems to creep into the lives of comfortable people. Those problems make them hungry for help and for answers. So open your eyes and your heart, and let God use you to serve those hungry souls the Bread of Life.
It’s Okay to Feel Helpless
Maybe you are unconvinced that you, right where you are today, can be used by God to reveal His mercy and truth. If so, let me show you something else: the way Jesus trained His unqualified disciples to do ministry. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand appears in all four gospels, so you have probably heard the story. But did you notice that Jesus gave the disciples an impossible command and then showed them how to obey it?
Before we look at that command, let me remind you of the clear connection that Jesus made between spiritual and material needs. This is a word and deed event. In Mark’s account we learn that Jesus had compassion on the crowd, not because they forgot their lunch, but “because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things” (6:34).
It was their need for a shepherd, for Him, that aroused His compassion. The miracle was a teaching tool for both the crowd and the disciples. Jesus taught the crowd that He was a shepherd worth following, because He could meet their needs. Not merely the needs of their bellies, but of their souls. By feeding so many with so little, Jesus revealed Himself as the same God who fed His people in the wilderness years before and was now with them once again. (See Exodus 16:1–36; Numbers 11:1–9.)
But He wouldn’t be with them for long. Jesus knew He would soon leave His ministry in the hands of eleven men who didn’t seem to have it all together. He had to teach the disciples how to minister to the needy and the lost. They had to know how to feed His sheep in the coming days, when He wouldn’t be with them physically.
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