The story of the boy who gave his lunch to the disciples to share with the multitude is well known.1 Jesus took the five small loaves and two fishes, blessed the food which was multiplied miraculously, and thousands of hungry people were satisfied. Who was the little boy? What was his name? What was the name of his thoughtful mother who provided the packed lunch? These details are not provided.
Unsung heroes quietly performing simple acts of kindness provide the backdrop to so many miracles of deliverance, healing, and supply. Consider the men who carried their paralyzed friend on his bed; they were so eager to bring him to Jesus for healing, they opened up part of the roof to get him into the crowded house.2
The Bible contains a lot of guidance for how to spend our time and energy: We’re to love and help others,1 share the good news of God’s love,2 and apply ourselves in our work,3 to name a few. But the Bible also teaches that sometimes it is best to stay put and let God work on our behalf.
“I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter told his fellow disciples.4
“We are going with you also,” they replied.
Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.—Author unknown
Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.—Colossians 3:15
To have peace reign in your heart may seem impossible when your mind is whirling in confusion at the stress of daily life. Yet such peace is promised; Jesus told us, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”1
Every day is filled with happy moments that we could thank God for, if we paused to acknowledge them. This thanksgiving exercise is based on what we perceive through our five traditional senses.
Sight: Many things are beautiful to behold, whether natural sights such as trees and flowers, created works such as art and architecture, or the sight of a friend or home after an absence. What pleasurable sights lined your path today? Thank God for them.
In one of her most famous poems, Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned a beautiful declaration of love that started like this:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach.
“You have trusted [god] in a few things, and he has not failed you. Trust him now for everything. You find no difficulty in trusting him with the management of the universe and all the outward creation, and can your case be any more complex or difficult than these, that you need to be anxious or troubled about his management of it?”—Hannah Whitall Smith (1832–1911)
The visual focus of this spiritual exercise is British painter William Holman Hunt’s (1827–1910) most famous work, “The Light of the World.”
The lone figure in this picture is Jesus. It is the risen Jesus we see, dressed in a white robe, crowned with thorns, and bathed in light. Jesus was so much more than a good man or a wise teacher; He was God in the flesh.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”1
Imagine a small child with a birthday or Christmas present. Excitedly, the child tears off the wrapping paper to discover what’s inside. Eyes widen and a shriek of joy is heard as the new toy is revealed. Perhaps she hugs her new golden-haired doll, or he starts pushing his toy truck across the room.
That’s a simple picture of the sense of wonder and appreciation we read in the Psalms:
"Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the longer and more earnestly I reflect on them: the starry heavens without and the moral law within."—Immanuel Kant1
This is an exercise for the evening or nighttime, preferably on a clear night, when the stars and moon are clearly visible. Outside is best, but if that isn’t possible, anywhere with a view outside a window will suffice.
Life is full of busy moments, tasks, and responsibilities that are each connected to jobs, studies, family, friends, orhome life. The moments turn into hours, which turn into days and weeks and years. It seems there is a never-ending stream of things to take care of. Then one morning, you wake up and feel at a loss. Where are you headed? It’s hard to keep a sense of direction when your vision is blurred.
This spiritual exercise can help you regain your focus. Sit down in a quiet place and follow the story of the blind man at Bethsaida:1