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An Impossible Task

Some well-meaning people try to encourage those who are going through difficulties by saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Actually, the Bible never makes this promise. And the example of God’s people suggests the opposite is true.

The miraculous feeding described in Matthew 14:1–21 is a case in point. After John’s execution by Herod Antipas, Jesus and the disciples withdrew from Galilee “to a solitary place” (v. 13). Introverts will be reassured that it was not unusual for Jesus to seek solitude. The violent reaction of His hometown and the execution of John the Baptist was evidence of an intensification of the opposition against Jesus. He was about to move into the final stage of His mission.

When the crowd learned Jesus had crossed to the other side of the sea of Galilee, they pursued Him on foot bringing their sick with them. By the time Jesus reached His destination a large crowd had gathered. We would probably be put off by this or irritated about our lack of privacy, but Jesus was moved with compassion (v. 14).

As evening approached, the disciples urged Jesus to send them away. It is not clear whether their motives were selfish or exhibited concern about the crowd’s welfare. Jesus told them to do the impossible: “You give them something to eat” (v. 16). It was already late, and the crowd was large. The multitudes that followed Jesus were made up of the poor who would not have had money to buy food even if it were available. When the disciples said that they had only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus provided the solution. “Bring them here to me,” He said (v. 18).

>> “Bring them here to me” is the answer we need every time we feel that God has asked us to do more than we are able. We must place our limited resources at His disposal. God will never give you more than He can handle.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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