The disciples should have been expecting it. After all, they’d seen Jesus do it before. But when it came down to it, they still doubted Jesus could fix the problem. Mark 8:1-4 gives the following account:
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
Sigh. Just two chapters ago, the disciples witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 with just five loaves and two fish. (Actually, it was a lot more than 5,000, since that number doesn’t include women and children.) What’s more, there were 12 baskets of leftovers. And now history is repeating itself. Another large crowd, this time 4,000 men plus women and children, again getting hungry after listening to Jesus’ teaching. But despite the fact that Jesus had already multiplied loaves and fish for an even larger crowd, the disciples balk at the daunting task of feeding so many people. Did they forget how Jesus had provided for everyone last time? Did they think He wouldn’t provide again? Where is their faith? And yet, we so often do the same thing.
It’s much easier to shake our heads at the lack of faith in others than to acknowledge that same lack of faith in ourselves. We roll our eyes at the Israelites facing the Red Sea with the Egyptians coming behind them, crying out in fear that they should have just died in Egypt. After God clearly showed His power by sending the plagues and by passing over their houses during the final plague, did they think He would let them down now? Did they honestly believe a body of water could stop their God from saving them as He had promised?
Or what about Peter? When Jesus walks on water out to their boat in the middle of a storm, Peter boldly asks Jesus to invite him to walk on water also. Jesus complies and tells him to come, but fear gets the better of Peter as he sees the wind and the waves, and he starts to sink. Did he think Jesus would let him drown? Wasn’t he in the boat some time earlier when Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves to be still? Does he still not realize Jesus has power over creation? So of course Jesus saves him, and then gives Peter a gentle rebuke. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)
The Bible has many examples of such moments of weakness in the life of God’s saints, and some seem downright silly. Like those disciples facing the crowd of 4,000 people not so long after the feeding of the 5,000, we might well ask, “Have you already forgotten?” But when we’re facing our own crises, then it’s not so easy to expect a miracle. It’s not so easy to remember what God has done for us in the past. Yes, I know God has never let us go hungry before, but I don’t get paid again until next week and we’re already dangerously low on groceries, you might fret. Or perhaps you’ve just received the devastating news that your cancer has returned. Maybe a loved one has suffered a stroke and you’re concerned that you won’t be able to afford proper care. Perhaps the loss of a job has you worried that you won’t be able to provide for your family anymore. In the face of such situations, it’s not so easy to trust God when the outcome is uncertain, even if we can look back to how He has cared for us in the past.
The fact is that we don’t know how things will turn out on earth. People do go hungry. There isn’t always enough money to pay for necessities. Disease ravages the body. People die from accidents, illness, and tragedy. God doesn’t promise every situation will have a happy resolution. But He does promise to be with us in all those situations. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
Nothing can separate you from Christ’s love–His eternal, saving love. He has proven His love for you in the past by His perfect life and His sinless suffering and death on your behalf. No matter what you must endure on this earth, you can be sure that death will not be the end. Jesus has already performed His most spectacular miracle by rising from the grave to defeat death, and He promises that all who believe in Him will likewise live.
So go ahead. Expect a miracle.