Thursday, March 10, 2016

Daily Devotional: March 10

Week Seven, Day Four, The Gospel according to Mark, Chapter 6

The disciples were exhausted. Mark makes a point of saying they had been so busy they didn't have time to eat. Ministering to and helping others can be tiring. Counselors talk about something called "compassion fatigue," a phenomenon where those who are listening to the pain of others constantly can become overcome with the weight of that pain themselves. It can drive many ministers, counselors, teachers, and social workers to burn out. Jesus recognizes this in the excited disciples as they recount all they had seen and done, so He takes them to a secluded place for rest. 

The place is desolate

When the crowd hears word of this plan to cross the sea, they beat Jesus there and are waiting for more miracles and teachings. Jesus teaches them, because He loves them, and is moved with compassion for them. Then the disciples, who are already exhausted ask Him to tell the people to leave. They want to rest. He promised them rest. 

The place is desolate

It would cost too much to feed all these people. Jesus asked them to see what they already have, which was five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus blessed the food, split the crowd up into groups, and then the meager amount of food was multiplied to fill everyone's need. 

The place is desolate

Many of us have read this story or heard it hundreds of times, but how many times have we noticed that phrase. The place is desolate. The disciples had nothing left to give. They were burned out, exhausted, running on fumes. Their hearts were now desolate as they had succumbed (naturally) to compassion fatigue. 

It is in these desolate places where we see Jesus continue to operate. In the desolate places, He provides sustenance. In the desolate places, He provides energy. The love that holds the universe together provides strength and power and sustains all things. When we give it what we have, no matter how empty the basket looks beforehand, Christ can use it to bring hope to desolate places. 

John Chrysostom, one of the earliest followers of the Jesus way, said this about this passage:
Even though the place is desolate, yet the One who feeds the world is present. And even though the hour is late, yet the one who is not subject to the hour is conversing with you.
May we feel Hope in the desolate places. May we feel comfort in our exhaustion.

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.