I got pregnant with my first child while my husband and I were stationed in South Korea. As if living in a completely foreign culture thousands of miles away from family wasn’t enough, God decided it was the right time to throw a first-time pregnancy at this already overly anxious military wife (oh, can I just add that we were less than 60 miles from the DMZ during a time in which tensions were extremely high on the peninsula–have-your-go-bag-gas-mask-and-evacuation-plan-ready-at-all-times high?)
But just as I was coming to peace with having my child born at a hospital on a very tense piece of foreign soil with a doctor who spoke only broken-English at best, the Air Force decided mere months before my due date to move us back to the United States.
That’s right. At seven months pregnant, I had to hop on a fifteen hour flight back to the States, buy a car (because we didn’t have one in Korea), find and move into a house, and settle on a new OBGYN. Oh, and also shop for a car seat, a crib, a stroller, baby clothes, diapers, bottles….
Panic was an understatement.
It wasn’t possible, I decided. It just wasn’t. I’d known Jesus for a long time. I’d seen Him perform miracles in my life, drag me out of more messes than I could count. He had never failed me. And yet this time–this time–it was just too hard. There was no way He could pull this off.
But, you know what? He did. Of course He did. I survived the flight (although more air sick than I’d ever been in my life). We found a car. We found a house. We found a doctor. We got all the baby stuff. And we got all settled in our new home before my son made his grand arrival (barely–he came just two days after our furniture was delivered!)
Against the impossible, God made it possible. As I held my newborn son in my arms, I shook my head against my inexplicable disbelief. How could I have doubted? How could I have panicked? Never again would I question His methods, His motives, or His mercy.
Fast forward three years. In the fall of 2013, I got pregnant again. We were ecstatic for this soon-to-be new blessing, and nesting was in full swing. I was decorating the nursery while potty-training my son, trying to get him excited about becoming the “big kid” of the family. Life was good.
And then the Air Force called.
Against all odds, yet again at mere months before my due date, the Air Force was moving us again. Although staying stateside, we would still have to pack up, travel while miserably pregnant, find a house and a new doctor, this time with an almost-three year-old in tow (who still hadn’t quite mastered the whole underwear thing).
I’d like to say that I recognized this opportunity. That I saw it as a chance to prove to God how much I was going to trust Him this time, how I was going to sleep in peace, knowing that He’d done it before and would do it again. That I had learned from my previous experience–my faith had grown.
But it’s not true. Just like before, I panicked. I stressed. I cried. I doubted. Once again I decided that this was too much. This was–again–the time that Jesus wasn’t going to come through.
All I can do now is look back at that time and shake my head. How hard was my heart and thick was my head that I went through the exact same situation and yet still mistrusted the same God who had provided for me before? I want to smack myself.
And yet the disciples–the same men who walked alongside Jesus and witnessed His miracles in the flesh–did the exact same thing.
In Mark 6, we find Jesus teaching a crowd of people. According to 6: 35-36, “by this time it was late in the day, so the disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.'”
“But he [Jesus] answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.'” (Mark 6: 37a)
If only I could see the disciples’ faces. I’m sure it looked a lot like mine when my husband came home and told big old pregnant me that the Air Force was making us move.
They were in the middle of nowhere. They had very little money, and the sum of the food on hand amounted to five loaves of bread and two fish.
But they were forgetting the most important thing–they also had Jesus.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he [Jesus] gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelves basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number o the men who had eaten was five thousand.” (Mark 6: 41-44)
Incredible. Miraculous. Something a firsthand-witness like the disciples would never forget, right?
And yet just two chapters later, in Mark 8, we see the exact same scene play out again:
“During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I sent them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” (Mark 8: 1-3)
Surely the disciples would get excited, right? They would recognize this scenario and their hearts would be prepared for a miracle.
Instead, “his disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?'” (Mark 8:4)
Yet again, much like me, the disciples only saw the problem–a problem they’d faced before, a problem God had not only met, but been glorified through. But here and now, in the panic of the moment, it was still all they could see. Even though He was standing right in front of them, somehow they still missed Jesus.
We are all such broken, foolish people, aren’t we?
But the love of God is so amazingly merciful and kind. Jesus could have reprimanded them; He could have scolded them for their blindness and lack of faith. Instead, He merely asked for a loaf count and “when he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied.” (Mark 8: 6b-8a)
Jesus did not admonish. He did not roll His eyes or walk away in frustration. He simply fed His followers.
I am so very thankful for the patience of my Savior. Even after witnessing these two identical miracles, the disciples still struggled with times of doubt and disbelief. Even after two healthy children born in the middle of moves, I still have moments of mistrust.
And yet Jesus continues to show up. He continues to guide, to provide, to bless. These moments of weakness and stubborn hard-heartedness serve to remind me that He isn’t doing any of this because I deserve it; He does it simply because it’s who He is.
He is patient while I am anxious. He is steady while I am fickle. He is reliable while I am forgetful.
And yet He loves me just the same.
Because, most of all, He is simply Jesus.