“Late in the afternoon the twelve came to Him and said, ‘Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.’
He replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’
They answered, ‘We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’ About five thousand men were there.)
But He said to his disciples, ‘Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” (Luke 9:12-17)
When I was a kid this passage always fascinated me. I wondered how Jesus could feed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Was it magic? Did He have extra bakers and fisherman on standby? It was a great mystery how He could satisfy so many with so little.
While thinking of the Christmas season last month I began to recall Jesus’ love and how it spreads just as markedly as that food did. He bestows His love on us through His constant presence in our lives. Just by picking up our Bible or closing our eyes and meditating on His word, birth, life and death, we feel Jesus’ love in our lives.
And then I began to think of my chronic illness. It was early December 2010 when a flu essentially damaged my autonomic nervous system leaving me with a myriad of symptoms–and a body spiraling out of control. Eventually I was diagnosed with dysautonomia and my life would change forever. I have dreaded the month of December since then but am slowly changing my views.
I now realize my illness has allowed growth. I am no longer trying to control everything in my life rather I know I have choices to make but ultimately God is in charge. Each new day is now a gift from God, rather than an expectation, and I do my best to make the day productive in some way. I try to thank God for each day, even the most difficult ones as there is always some good to be found.
And just like Jesus provided an opportunity for thousands to eat, He has changed my life’s path. I have met people and nurtured relationships in a variety of areas including through running a HopeKeepers group, joining a book club, participating in church activities, spending more time with family and friends and through on-line support. God has even allowed my heart to grow in its capacity to meet and love others. For this I am grateful.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I am not always sure where my life is going but am slowly learning that You are ultimately in charge and trusting in You makes everything go more smoothly. Thank You, Lord, for the great comfort You provide during both difficult and joy-filled days. Amen.
About the author:
Laura Seil Ruszczyk lives in New York with her husband and three children. She is a retired elementary school counselor who discovered her love of writing about 35 years ago. Laura is the disability/chronic illness advocate for her church and also enjoys running a HopeKeepers group. She is writing a book about her illness, dysautonomia: the deregulation of the autonomic nervous system. She had a pacemaker implanted in October 2013 as a result of dysautonomia slowing her heart rate.
How do you trust God even when you are challenged?
In this song Jason Gray sings, “Nothing is Wasted.” Although you can’t tell when he is singing, Jason has a stutter and this struggle over the years has given him a unique perspective on suffering (and how God can use it!) -Lisa