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From the Synod Moderator: ‘Humbly Offered to the Lord’
Lessons from Five Loaves and Two Fishes - John 6:5-8
By Rt Rev Keith Lai
Oct 2020

Humbly Submit to the Test of Faith

Mark makes it very clear that Jesus’ challenge to Philip was meant to be a test of his faith. Life is filled with many forms of tests. They can be relational in the loss of loved ones, financial or health losses. If I may crystalize most tests to one, it’s fundamentally a test of faith. It well captured in this statement, “What we really love and trust aren’t truly seen until we are tested by loss.”

So whatever trying situation we find ourselves in, we do well by asking, “Will I choose to continue trusting the Lord, as I face this severe test?”

What our Lord was asking of Philip seems totally impossible and incomprehensible. “Will I keep faith in the Lord, even if I can’t make sense of what’s happening?”

Sharing how he has coped after his son’s suicide last year, megachurch pastor Rick Warren urged Southern Baptist pastors to let their times of suffering be acts of ministry.

“Behind every public ministry, there is private pain. Pain is God’s megaphone. There is no testimony without a test. There is no message without a mess. There is no impact without criticism. Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt. We mistakenly think that the world is impressed by how we handle prosperity, but the fact is the world is impressed by how we handle adversity.” Out of the fiery furnace of tests, we come forth as gold refined for the Master’s use and glory.

“In the kingdom of the heavens, no suff'ring is unknown
Each tear that falls is holy, each breaking heart a throne
There is a song of beauty on ev'ry weeping eye
For there is One who loves me
His heart, it breaks with mine.” (“Little with Great Love” by Portal’s Gate)

Humbly Embrace Your Limits as God’s Gifts

Philip was made to see and feel the overwhelming task of feeding so many people with next to nothing. What is Christ showing Philip and us in the face of such immense needs? Every day we are confronted with this same challenge when we look around or hear the latest world news. Every life and ministry situation confronts us with a test. It comes to us often in the face of dire needs and crisis. We are not tested primarily for our competence or sufficiency. In fact the test exposes our spiritual incompetence and bankruptcy. The amount of “two hundred pieces of silver”, equates to about eight months’ wages of the average person. The enormity of the needs leaves us helpless and desperate.

One of the “first lessons of the five loaves and two fishes requires us to deeply embrace our limitations,” says Scazzero in one of his podcast. He defines success as, “Receiving God’s Limits as a Gift.” The gift that most of us reject and refuse to acknowledge is the gift of limitations. Most of us are taught to break through our limitations to achieve more. But what if embracing our limits actually brings us closer to God? Scazzero observed that “ignoring limits was the rebellion in the Garden of Eden.”

Humbly Offer Your Little with Great Love

We tend to measure success by size - huge volume, big numbers, high incomes. In God’s economy, his benchmarks of success are very different. He notices the small, the few and the limited resources. One young Swiss girl protested against the government’s lack of action against climate change by stopping school and holding a placard in front of parliament house. Soon, this escalated into a global movement.

“Oh, the deeds forgotten; oh, the works unseen
Every drink of water flowing graciously
Every tender mercy, You're making glorious
This You have asked us
Do little things with great love
Little things with great love.” (“Little with Great Love” by Portal’s Gate)

Footnote: This message was also shared in Rt Rev Keith Lai’s message at the TTC graduation this year.


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