A few weeks ago, as I was reading in my Bible, I came across Luke, Chapter 9 and The Feeding of the Five Thousand. It’s a story I have read many times but this time I noticed something fresh and new.
In verse twelve the disciples came to Jesus and said,
“Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” (Luke 9:12, ESV)
A desolate place?
The Encarta Dictionary defines desolate as:
1) Empty: bare, uninhabited, and deserted
2) Alone: solitary, joyless, and without hope
3) Grim: dismal and gloomy
Empty, alone, grim. Sometimes I think these words describe more than our physical surroundings. I can remember a distinct time in my life in which my husband and I felt empty, alone, and grim; A time when we found ourselves in what seemed to be a desolate place.
It was a sunny fall day in 2008. My husband and I were at a hotel in Charlotte, NC. Eager and excited to meet with a realtor, we couldn’t wait to spend the day shopping for a new home.
In the weeks leading up to this fateful day, my husband had been offered a new job by a company based in Charlotte. As newlyweds, my husband and I had lived in Charlotte for four years before moving to Virginia, and while we loved Virginia, Charlotte felt like home.
The house we were renting in Virginia had recently gone into foreclosure, and our landlord didn’t know how long it would take for the bank to gain possession. To say the least, our living situation was anything but stable.
In addition to the stress of our housing situation, my husband was unemployed and I was four months pregnant with our first baby. We prayed for God to send us an answer and lead us through this turbulent time.
My husband’s new job and the chance to move back to Charlotte seemed to be the answer we had been praying for. We felt certain that God was making all the pieces fall in place, and we couldn’t be happier.
As we sat in the hotel lobby, enjoying coffee and breakfast, my husband’s cell phone rang. I could tell by the way he left our table that something was wrong. When he returned the look on his face told me that I was right: His job offer was gone.
Gone. Without the assurance of a job we had no reason to move to Charlotte. We had no stable income or housing to return to in Virginia and a baby on the way.
No job, no home, no security or direction for the next chapter of our lives.
Empty. Alone. Grim. This was our desolate place.
“And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.” (Luke 9: 16-17, ESV)
They all ate and were satisfied…with broken pieces?
Isn’t this what Christ does? In the desolate place, He takes our bread and fish, He takes that which doesn’t seem like enough, and He turns it into a blessing, into provisions that satisfy our needs.
With broken pieces He makes us full.
He meets our need. He provides with abundance, even in desolate places.
Out of that day in Charlotte, my husband’s business was born. For the first time in his life my husband is doing the kind of work he has always dreamed of doing. To date, God has blessed our business with the kind of growth that can only be attributed to Him and his “bread and fish” provision.
That day in Charlotte was dark, and while it felt like a desolate place, the truth is, we were never empty, we were never alone, and our future was never grim, because God was always with us.
In the desolate place He kept us full. In the desolate place He kept us company. In the desolate place He gathered our bread and our fish and gave us bite after bite of His grace and provision so that our future could shine with hope.
When it comes to desolate places, I know I’m not alone. Where is your desolate place? What doesn’t seem like enough? How is God filling you?
Wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, I hope you can remember the five thousand, the bread and the fish, the baskets full of broken pieces. Most of all, I hope you can remember Jesus, the master of miracles in desolate places.