“I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the road.” Matthew 15:32
Blessed Master, these compassionate words of Yours, give us such an assuring glimpse into Your heart of infinite love and grace, that we thank You for permitting them to be recorded in Your Book! They manifest You so clearly to our human comprehension, that in them we see, “as in a glass,” the reflection of Your Divine pity and power.
There were some thousands of people, on that mountain side, who had been with the Lord for three days, receiving His gifts of healing, teaching, and cleansing; and they were evidently reluctant to leave Him. Yet the meager provision which, presumably, some had brought with them, had been consumed; and the Master’s great loving heart found it impossible to dismiss them without food. During the three days, His Divine power had been in constant manifestation in the miracles which He had wrought; but, now, His human pity finds expression in His desire to give them something to eat, that they might not faint on their homeward road.
And, since He was as really human as they were, and even then was “touched with the feelings of our infirmities,” I do not think it irreverent to imagine that He, too, felt the need of earthly sustenance, and Himself partook of the bread and fish which He had blessed and broken. Surely, this tender care of the Lord Jesus for the bodily needs of the multitudes around Him, should comfort us greatly, and strengthen our faith in the fact which He unfolded to us when He said, “Your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.”
I wonder why it is, that we learn so slowly this sweet lesson of confidence in God, and are sometimes so backward in trusting Him with the safe management and supply of our temporal necessities. We would always be as carefree as the birds of the air, and as beautiful as the lilies of the field—if we depended on Him as absolutely as they do.
And this is also true in spiritual matters. Can you think, poor longing, hungry hearts—that the Lord Jesus will be less pitiful to your soul’s need than He was to that hungry multitude? Your hunger is keen for “the bread which came down from Heaven;” your thirst is unquenchable until “the water of life” touches your lips; you are ready for the blessing—the spiritual food which so far exceeds the earthly counterpart; so that you may be quite sure that He is readier still to bestow it.
It matters not that the source of supply is not visible to you. “How could we have so much bread in the wilderness,” said the undiscerning disciples, “as to fill so great a multitude?” They forgot, as we, alas! too often forget, “what manner of man” this is, and what He can accomplish by the power of His Word. See, dear soul, if you have come to the Lord hungering and thirsting for His love and pardon, it is not possible that He should send you away empty. His heart is too tender, His hands are too full of blessing, His desire to feed and comfort you is too intense, for there to be any failure on His part in supplying to you all that you crave.
I know there are some who say that they are seeking Christ, and yet cannot find Him. Dear hearts, do not be angry with me—for I write for myself as well as for you—when I tell you that, if you are not fed, it must be because you will not eat! Suppose you had been one of that favored company on the mountainside, and that you had, at the Lord’s command, sat down with the others; but when one of the disciples brought to you the basket of food, made ready by the Lord’s own hand, and blessed by His own lips, you had refused to take it, from some foolish whim, or caprice, or doubt which possessed you, would you have had anyone to blame but yourself, had you fainted with exhaustion on your return journey over the hills of Judea to your home?
Ah! None at that wonderful feast were as foolish and unreasonable as you and I sometimes are, for it is recorded that “they all ate, and were filled.” There, as in the time of the old law given by Moses, they did “ate before the Lord;” and doubtless it was, to every man, woman, and child present, the sweetest and most sacred meal they had ever tasted; and there was no fainting in the way as they traversed the hills and plains, but rather a strengthening of heart, and a freshness of joy, and a filling of the mouth with songs of praise, as the result of that wondrous feast.
Now, will not some poor sinful, suffering, starving one take heart from the teaching of this miracle, and come at once to the compassionate Savior to have all need supplied? The more hungry you are, the greater will be your joy in being filled; and He has said, “I will not send them away hungry.” Trust Him, and be abundantly satisfied. My dear husband once happily said, “He may make us wait to awaken appetite, but He will not in the end dismiss us unfed.” So, let nothing discourage you. Sit on the ground before Him, as He bids you, until the basket comes round; or, if the disciples pass you by, venture to His side, and take the blessing straight from His loving hand. He will never chide you for trusting Him too much!
Unbelievers laugh to scorn our Scriptural confidence in an Omniscient God, who is also our tender Father. They ridicule the idea that He watches over us with Divinely parental solicitude, and Himself appoints and permits every event in our lives. But their derision does not alter or destroy the blessed fact, nor does it leave the least impression or disquietude on a believing heart. Yet it does distress us for their own sake.
While these “personal notes” were taking shape in my mind, and, in the multitude of my thoughts within me, this comfort of God was delighting my soul, I happened to see a sharp criticism of a popular author’s recent book, in which these words occurred—”brought up in the belief that Providence concerns itself with the petty details of their lives, in a manner most intimate and most improving—if chastening is improving.”
How my heart ached at the darkness and blindness of a man who could write like that! He would want none of my pity, I know; but I could not withhold it, nor could I rest until I had carried the matter before the Lord in prayer. Of course, I know there are thousands of people who are like-minded and skeptical; but that only increases my sorrow. To them, our loving, gracious God is simply “Providence itself;” -nothing more than a neutral agency, about which they know little, and care less; there is no personal tenderness—no near relationship—no “cords of a man, and bands of love,” which draw their souls irresistibly into the blessedness of His loving-kindness and tender mercy. We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Today, God’s children can tell of deliverances as miraculous, of supplies as unexpected, and of dangers as certainly averted—as any of those recorded in the chronicles of the Kingdom!