“I believe, help my unbelief.” So said the father as he entrusted his son to Jesus for deliverance from the malevolent and malicious demon (Mark 9:14–24). Anton recently mentioned this account in his excellent article on trusting God (“Trust God and Keep Your Powder Dry”). I’m sure that, at different times in our life, we can all relate to this ambiguity of faith. The disciple Andrew certainly could, and this is helpfully revealed in John 6:1–14.
In the well-known account of Jesus feeding the multitude with a few sardines and a couple of scones, Andrew displayed what is often the outlook, the attitude, of Christians like you and me. That is, Andrew was sceptical and hopeful at the same time. Allow me to refresh your memory.
Jesus had been teaching a huge crowd (five thousand men, not counting women and children). It was late. (Don’t blame me for long sermons—I am simply following my Master!) People were hungry. Some of the disciples had suggested that the crowd should be dismissed into the nearby towns to feed themselves but Jesus had a better idea: The disciples should extend hospitality by feeding them (see Matthew 14:15–16). Jesus asked (setting the stage for chef’s surprise), “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip responds incredulously, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little” (v.7). At this point, Andrew, hesitantly, it seems, offered, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (Andrew sounds rather like a socialist here!)
Note the ambiguity, the tug-and-pull of hope and doubt, the interplay of belief and unbelief. Andrew had enough faith to make what seemed like an outlandish suggestion—feed a huge crowd with one little lunch—while sceptically retreating from the offer at the same time. But as I read this, I thought, “Well done, Andrew!” At least for the moment, he was willing to trust Jesus to do something amazing. And to give credit where credit is due, I think there was more faith here than initially meets the eye.
I would have loved to have heard the tone of his question, “But what are they for so many?” Perhaps he said it like my children, with an endearing look, would sometimes say to me at the store, “Dad, I don’t suppose you would buy me a chocolate?” Their question was more weighted with hope than with doubt. Usually, they would leave the shop with a candy bar. Perhaps this was the case with Andrew. After all, why otherwise would he even offer such a suggestion?
Anyway, I like the attitude. I need more of this, especially in these trying days. And perhaps you do also.
The main point of this account is to point us to the sufficiency of our Saviour. And because he who is the Bread of Life is all sufficient, he can be trusted, even in what seems like impossible situations. So, as you face the beginning of a new month, questioning how you will pay your bills, how you will meet your obligations, how you will care for your family, and what the future will look like, let me encourage you to remember this account. This story is not fiction. It happened. The Lord who created everything is able to meet the needs of his people. Not only is he able, he has promised to do so (Matthew 6:25–34). So, like Andrew, go to the Lord with your dependence and your devotion, even as doubt annoyingly tags along. And when you do, make sure you bring along some extra baskets. You may very well need them.
Asking with you,