Filling The Void
There comes a point in a person's life when they become aware of the fact that something is missing. There is a void, an empty space inside of every human being that needs to be filled before a person can feel complete. People search for things with which to fill this void. Some find other people to fill the void. Some dedicate themselves completely to their work. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to fill the empty space inside of them. Problems come when someone we love hurts or betrays us, or when we lose our job. Drugs and alcohol destroy lives when no amount is ever enough to fill the void. What many notice is that, while some things are temporarily fulfilling, they never can find true satisfaction. Somewhere down the line, they end up back where they started, with that feeling of emptiness.
After feeding the five thousand in John chapter 6, Jesus heads back across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. The crowds, after having had their fill of fish and bread the day before, eagerly follow. Upon their arrival, Jesus teaches the crowd a valuable lesson about filling up on temporary things;
------When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."- John 6:25-27
Jesus is calling us to find a deeper satisfaction, through a relationship with him, and through knowledge of his word. This requires work, more than just supplying God with an endless shopping list of requests and needs. This life on earth is only temporary, and the things of this world will pass away with it. If we are only following Jesus only to have every physical need met, we are missing the point. Perhaps we are like the people in the crowd, treating Jesus like just another temporary fix for the issues we face in life; another belly full of fish and bread, only to be hungry again the next day. If we do this, the first time our prayers aren't answered the way we planned, we will be off to the next temporary fix. Jesus is calling us to more than that.
------Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "always give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.- John 6:32-35
This Idea about temporary sustanance is foreshadowed throughout the Tanakh in God's temporary provision of manna to the Israelites. Manna is a temporary food, given only for a limited amount of time; but used to teach an eternal lesson about Jehovah Jireh, God our provider.
------The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.- Joshua 5:11-12
When the Israelites were starving in the desert, God provided them with manna, literal food from heaven. He could have provided food for the Israelites for all of eternity, but providing them with physical nourishment was not the point, though it was a need. The literal food was temporary;
------Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.- Exodus 16:19-20
Though the food itself was temporary, the lesson about trusting in God's eternal provision carries on still today.
------He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. -Deuteronomy 8:16-18
In John chapter six, Jesus teaches the people the same lesson taught to their ancestors during their time in the wilderness, Type and shadow. There is so much more to our walk of faith than simply waiting like baby birds, mouths open, for all of our problems to be Miraculously solved. Eternal life in Christ Jesus is our ultimate reward; once we realize this, the trials and tribulations of life become bearable. Sometimes we grow the most through unanswered prayers. We are strengthened by standing in the midst of life's storms, and tempered and purified in our trials by fire. Often it takes a great deal of wisdom, patience, and humility to accept these truths.
------"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33
True fulfillment is not found in fast solutions to every problem in life, that wouldn't foster the growth of a Christlike Character. Sometimes God expects us to take some initiative in solving our own problems, this is part of growing spiritually, and working with the authority given to us through a relationship with him. When feeding the five thousand, notice what Jesus says to the disciples;
------As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." -Matthew 14:15-16
So the void inside cannot be filled by temporary fixes, but only through the eternal truths found in a relationship with Christ. Trouble still comes; but through him, we find the depth of character needed to stand up to the trials of this life, while showing others the nature of Jesus in us. We find strength in the assurance we have of spending eternity with the Lord. This life and it's troubles are temporary. Life with Christ is eternal. So let's not chase after the food that spoils, but that which forever fills us up.
------So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18
Baruch hata Adonai, elo-henu malech ha-olam, ha'tov, va-ha'me-tev.