What if the thought, "It's not fair," is really saying "I lack"?
A few months ago, I went to bed at 7 pm.
Why? I needed to be alone.
"It's not fair" had been screaming at me for the past 24 hours.
Amidst all of the busyness of the day, I could only feel all of the feels, but I couldn't quite name the problem yet. Finally, I could allow the tears to fall and put to words what had been squeezing at my heart all afternoon. I ignored texts and instead grieved the feelings of "It's not fair."
If you know me at all, you know I am not a big TV watcher. Doesn't interest me. Now, a good Hallmark movie is one thing. So is a New Orleans Saints football game. But the rest? Nope. No interest. Okay, maybe Star Trek Next Generation. My hubby duped me into learning to like that series. But all in all, I am a bit clueless about the entertainment culture. I admit it.
But this particular night, I binge-watched "Hetty Feather".
Please give me a Netflix series with a poor, ill-treated orphan any day. I watched episode after episode until I had almost finished season one. I allowed the feelings to swell up as needed, cried, and let them fade away while Hetty tried once again to escape her miserable life of scrubbing never-ending staircases by thinking thoughts of future escape.
5:30 am soon came quickly enough, and the following day I started in on my routine. I made my hot cinnamon spice tea, unloaded the dishwasher, and lay on my Deniroll. (If you suffer from migraines, I HIGHLY recommend this device! I am migraine-free now!)
I settled down with my steeped tea and opened my Bible. As I began to turn to the place I had left off, Philippians 4, my Bible instead fell open to a page where I had stuffed a couple of pictures of people for whom I am praying. An old penciled-in note on John 6:5 flagged my attention.
At some point in the past, I had penciled into the verse , "Aleisha, what are WE going to do about this problem?"
It was the Lord's voice speaking directly to me. I could tell.
The story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John 6 is well known. It is one any three-year-old who has been to Sunday school could probably share. But today, it spoke to me in an entirely different way.
Jesus had said to Phillip, "Where are we to buy bread so that these may eat?"
I imagine Phillip's tired eyes as he gazed at the pressing crowd. People. People. People. They are everywhere. So needy. I can almost hear his unspoken thoughts. Might as well give up now, Lord.
Jesus' eyes still fixed on Phillip, it was almost as if he were asking, What are WE going to do about this problem?
Had he listened carefully, Phillip could have noticed something. Jesus used the word "we," and I don't think by mistake.
In life, we are not on our own. We are in Christ. It's never a "I" problem. It's a "we" problem.
What are we going to do? Did the Lord not know about the corner market around the bend? Was he in a new city? Was He clueless about the possibilities of feeding a crowd?
No, He already knew. Could he have wanted Philip to understand something greater? I think so, judging by the conversation.
Phillip's answer was very natural.
Lord, umm . . . We only bought two hundred denarii worth of bread. It's not sufficient for them. Everyone will only receive a little.
Another disciple broke into the conversation. Hey, that boy over there has five loaves of bread and two fish. We can use that, too, but it's not enough.
It's not enough.
The book of John doesn't say so, but I imagine Jesus is smiling one of those "I know it" kinds of smiles.
You know the type. It's like the parent who watches their kids unwrap every Christmas gift hoping for a puppy but not seeing it. All the while, the puppy waits around the corner with a big bow adorning its fuzzy, little puppy dog neck.
It's also the mother who rhetorically asks, "What do you think we should do here," fully knowing the answer is in herself. She will provide. It's a given. Yet, the child is not convinced. It is allowing the child to struggle through lack to see his own mindset.
That's where the "It's not fair" comes into play. "It's not fair" is a mindset on lack.
In contrast, the mindset of a person In Christ sees abundance.
In this encounter with the 5,000, Jesus would turn the disciples' view of "lack" upside down. He would teach them that He alone is abundance.
But His disciples needed to discover that for themselves.
When we look at the crowd in need, it is easy to see lack. Want. Insufficiency.
Yet, our natural mindset needs to turn from the temporal to the eternal.
Jesus Christ IS our provider. He is abundance.
My cinnamon tea grew cold as I realized that this time sitting alone with the Word of God, in the word, was incredibly life-giving. I could feel myself start to exhale out some of the yuck already beginning to dissipate inside. My Spirit began to rejoice as I initiated a conversation inside. [Surely, I can't be the only goofball who talks to herself.]
Aleisha, you're never "in lack" in Jesus Christ. Nobody can take this time away from you. You'll always have this cherished time with the Lord, no matter what. Just you and He. No competition with others. That other situation may still not be fair, but remember this. Jesus is asking you, "Aleisha, what do you think we should do about this problem?" It's a rhetorical question because he knows the answer already. He just wants you to see it, too. The answer is—Jesus is abundant. In Him is your answer. And you have Him. You are already filled. While it may be unfair in the natural world, in Jesus Christ, you will never want. Rejoice in that. Peace will start to guard your heart and mind. (Phil 4:6-7)
Hetty Feather grew to rejoice in her situation. Her hope of finding her natural mother kept her alive as she scrubbed dirty staircase after dirty staircase. She set her mind on hope, not her circumstances.
And no matter how many floors of "It's not fair" dirty staircases I encounter, my hope in Jesus Christ preserves my attitude of gratefulness. Circumstances may be what they are, but that is not where I train my thoughts.
Instead, I set my mind upon Jesus Christ.
Paul shares in Philippians 4:12, "in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need."
It's the intimate union with Christ that allows me to feel the natural suffering of lack and yet at the same time realize the abundance that I already possess in Jesus Christ.
In this, I can be thankful. And I don't mean the "at least" resigned kind of grateful either, ringing slightly with a tone of defeat.
Oh, thank you, Father, that I have every reason to rejoice and remember that you give to me unreservedly in my world with you. I'm not losing out here. Yes, it's not fair, but for an entirely different reason. You provide me with everything. You gave your son to me, for me.
That baby in a manger would grow up to die on the cross for me. That certainly isn't fair. Yet, He did it for me. And now In Him, I shall have every need supplied for me in the abundant overflow of the person of Jesus Christ! I will never lack. Help me, Lord, to have faith in who you say you are.
May I look at your resources instead of my own and have that attitude with my circumstances. I lay this on Your alter and trust that You provide. Thank you, Bread of Life.
I wonder if Jesus was smiling at Philip, knowing that 2,000 years later, a woman from 2021 would also be closing her eyes, inserting herself into the story of the feeding of the 5,000.
And just as He asks Phillip, Jesus asks her. "Aleisha, what do you think we should do about this problem?"
Smiling, the little second-grade student in me wildly pumps her hand up and down in the air, shouting, "Oh…Oh… I know, Teacher. I know."
Jesus, you are the very bread of life. In you is abundance.
If you can feed the 5,000, you can surely take care of this, too.
Will you look at the crowd or the provider?
Please feel free to share this post on social media with the share feature below this post. If you would like to receive further posts by email, you will find a subscribe button on the bottom of my blog's home page. I would love to connect with you!