It was a confounding problem. It was dinnertime, there were over 5000 hungry people, and they were in a desolate location with little to no food immediately available. So the disciples naturally urged Jesus to send everyone away to fend for themselves. They looked to Him to make things right, and He did. But not at all in the way they were expecting. He told them calmly, “You give them something to eat.” Um, Jesus? All we have here is five loaves and two fish. That won’t even feed the 13 of us. Still, Jesus meant what He said. He directed everyone to sit down on the grass, blessed the food, and had the disciples distribute it to everyone there. Incredibly, everyone was fed, and there were 12 baskets of leftovers. Way to go, Jesus! And clearly, yes, He deserves all the glory for the miracle. But there’s something we’re missing if we stop there—the role the disciples played.

Fast forward 2000 years, and here we are in a world very different from the world in which Jesus walked. Yet some things remain the same. In times of crisis, we still look to God, frantically begging Him to fix things, wondering what He’s going to do. This world is a mess. Wars, terrorist attacks, persecution, hunger, and disease are just some of the problems people in the world face on a daily basis. Those of us in America who hold to conservative ideals may wonder at the state of our country. How have we come to a point where abortion is allowed, homosexual “marriage” is legal, and sex ed programs for public schools are incorporating the LGBTQ agenda as part of the new norm? Where is God in all this, anyhow? How could He allow it to come to this?

You give them something to eat.

Jesus’ response to the disciples is somewhat shocking. He reminds them of their own responsibility in the matter. They brought Him the meager food supply they could find, and Jesus multiplied it. Then they were the ones to distribute that to the people, marvelling as they went how the food never ran out. They were Jesus’ hands and feet. And so it is for us today.

You give them something to eat.

Brothers and sisters, we are the ones who are here. We are God’s church on earth, in this specific time and place. Each of us brings his or her own talents and interests and abilities. Jesus blesses us so we may use those talents to further His kingdom. We dare not sit idly on the sidelines, waiting for God to take action. We are here. We can do something. We can speak out against abortion and gay rights and immorality. We can  write our representatives. We can volunteer or support pro-life organizations with our monetary donations. We can fight hunger and poverty in our communities. We can be Jesus’ hands and feet as the disciples were. And as we do this, we do so in love, gently pointing others to Jesus, who alone can offer healing and hope.

You give them something to eat.

Nor do we stop with social and political matters. Remember also Jesus’ parting command to His disciples. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” He says in Matthew 28:19. We are also Jesus’ hands and feet to spread the Gospel, not just by praying for pastors or sending money to missionaries. Yes, do those things. But look around your own community as well. Who will tell your unchurched neighbor about Jesus? Why not you? You are here. You can do something. Go. Tell. And remember that you don’t do this alone, for Jesus promises, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

So where is God in this messy world? He is here. He is in His Church, working through His children. Working through you, dear brother or sister.

You give them something to eat.