“It’s just one of those days.” How often do you hear that? How often do we say that ourselves.
Let’s consider a day in the life of Jesus using Matthew 14. His day would begin the evening before, with sundown. Bedtime would typically be early. So, it’s not surprising that Jesus would be up early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35).
Soon after, the news arrives from Jerusalem that John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, was beheaded by order of Herod. (verses 1-12) Jesus withdraws by boat by himself to a desolate place. I can only imagine his broken heart as he personally experiences the evil happening around him.
But, there is no time to mourn as the crowds follow him. When Jesus comes ashore, he saw them. The word is from the Greek horao (ὁράω), meaning to perceive or to experience. This is much more than seeing with the eyes. After all, it’s a little hard to miss seeing a crowd with one’s eyes. And as he saw, he was moved with compassion on them. This is a seeing with the eyes of God through the eyes of man and then the heart of God loving in the same way.
So he healed their sick. Here’s a man with a broken heart, ministering to others. At evening, the disciples urge Jesus to send the crowds away to feed themselves. But no, Jesus feeds them out of what they have, after 1) looking to heaven and 2) blessing what they had. All were satisfied. There is food left over. Needs now met, Jesus sends everyone on their way and once again returns to the mountain to pray. Now he can mourn his cousin. But the day is not done. By this time the disciples are in trouble on the sea. It is the 4th watch, between 3am and 6am. It appears that Jesus had been up all night, walking across the sea. He addresses the disciples’ fear, and Peter walks on the water too. They come to the other side and the daylight hours begin. Once again people come for healing. I suspect Jesus gets no sleep. We see Jesus moving in and out from contemplation to kingdom action.
When we face days which don’t go at all as we expect, and in which many unexpected challenges arise, we have choices for our response. Some that come to mind are:
- We can go to a dark place. I’m reminded of the song from Hee Haw in the 1970s:
Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me
deep dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all,
Gloom, despair, and agony on me
- We can look to our idols or crutch of choice for help. But, these don’t speak, strengthen, or give life. They take and destroy.
- We can live our lives as new creations, citizens of the Kingdom of God, and empowered like Jesus. How did Jesus do this? One, he kept returning to prayer in solitude. This prayer put him in touch with the power of the Father. He also lived in continuous prayer with the Father. I imagine Jesus listening to the Father and his self talk, not of personal condemnation like many of us, but of blessedness connectedness with the Father. In fact, so much so, that he knows it’s absence on the Cross. Jesus had food they knew not of (John 4: 32-34) — to do the will of the Father. Jesus seeks to please the Father because whatever the Father does the Son does (Jn 5:19).
As Christians, we are to image Jesus in the world and do what Jesus would do, which is what the Father would do. Jesus gifted his followers with the Holy Spirit to call upon in times of unexpected challenge. When we are weak, then we are strong. (2 Cor. 12:10). We too have food from heaven. Just as Jesus seeks to rest and rise and pray in the morning, so too can we. Just as Jesus enters into the world with compassion, so too can we. Just as Jesus heals, sets the prisoners free, and brings good news to the poor, so can we. We too can recognize people by name. We can offer encouragement. We can pray with those we encounter. We can provide for physical needs. In short, we can love our neighbor. Whatever life throws at us, we can contemplate at each moment of our day how we can act for the Kingdom of God.
See Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of the 23rd Psalm, by Dallas Willard