Sometime after that, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had preformed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another one of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will the go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by the people who had eaten.
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into this world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Today we had a terrible PD training. Not the “this is a big waste of time time and I’d much rather be teaching” kind of terrible training I’m sure we’ve all endured, but the kind of terrible that just breaks your heart and makes you want to curl up into a ball and weep. Today’s topic was Trauma Informed Teaching. We talked about the kinds of trauma our kiddos have experienced and they ways it affects their brains and their behavior. Really hard stuff, guys.
I walked out of the Media Center feeling broken and overwhelmed. I came back to my desk and tried to work on lesson plans…but carefully crafted lessons didn’t seem very important in light of the my Little Darlings’ rotten situations. Since I couldn’t think about anything else, I poured over my attendance sheets, praying for each of my students and their home lives.
It made me think of Jesus feeding the five thousand. I was feeling like Philip, all practical: There are so many of them, and so many needs…and there’s just one me. I’ll love them and welcome them in to my classroom and give them stability and predictability and kindness while they are with me in our safe and cozy classroom…but then what? They’ll go back to their tough lives. And I’ll only have them for a year, maybe two if I’m lucky…but will that really make a difference?
But like in the scripture, Jesus “already has in mind what He is going to do”. He already has a plan and like those measly fishies and loaves, He takes what we have and makes it more than enough. On our own, one teacher is no match for the hundreds of needs in our classrooms…but Jesus sees 5,000 hungry people, a few fish sandwiches and doesn’t panic or feel overwhelmed. Math that doesn’t work for us simple humans makes perfect sense to God. What is totally inconceivable for us is more than enough in God’s economy.
We have a God of abundance! He doesn’t divvy out a crumb of bread with a flake of fish to each hungry dude in the crowd. No, way! Everyone ate as much as they wanted and there were even leftovers! He generously filled their tummies and mercifully he let the disciples “help” him. They were in on the problem, they got the crowds organized, they helped with clean up duty, and the crowds left that afternoon with full bellies (and I’m sure, a sense of awe and amazement!).
There’s just too many of them: too many needs, too many hurts. We can’t heal them or fix their home lives, or be everything that each one of our little darlings needs. But, thankfully Jesus can do those things…and he invites us into his work. He takes what little we can offer: limited time, limited patience, limited resources and makes it more than enough for the crowds before us.
And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8
Take the crowds to Him. Bring to Him their needs and the overwhelming feeling that what they need is much more than you can fulfill. He’ll show you what you can do and He’ll multiply your efforts. Stay close to him and He’ll direct your steps.
I wrote a blog post about how this is playing out in my classroom…if you’re interested