The first few chapters of Matthew give us a whirlwind tour of Jesus’ teaching and miracles. I’m so challenged and convicted by Jesus’ response to the constant needs around Him. He shows no signs of compassion fatigue and just keeps rolling up His sleeves and diving in, over and over again. Whether people love Him or hate Him, His plan doesn’t change. The message doesn’t change. I want to be like that, but so often it’s a struggle to stay on track when I feel misunderstood or that people are somehow displeased with me. I struggle with letting things like that go. But Jesus gives me a beautiful example of staying close to the Father for my strength and encouragement no matter what is happening around me.
Jesus wasn’t overwhelmed by the needs around Him. Verse 36 of chapter 9 tells us that “when He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” He looked beyond what was on the surface and saw their deep need for a Savior. The surface can be pretty ugly and hard to deal with, but we can’t stop there no matter how much we may want to. Jesus was and is still today, more than willing to meet those deep needs.
Chapter 9 closes with Jesus telling His disciples to pray for more workers for the harvest. In other words, pray that God will send more people to help with sharing the Good News about Jesus and helping to meet practical needs that lead people to explore a relationship with Him. He says the harvest is great. I’m convicted by the ratio of time that I spend complaining about the need for more – more staff, more volunteers, more time, more compassion, more patience – versus the time I spend actually praying for it. Verse 38 says, “So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” It’s His harvest and it’s His fields. I can easily get that confused and think that it’s up to me somehow. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have when we want to see people come to know Jesus and experience the true freedom that He offers. I need to be reminded of that often.
I’m giving myself a challenge this week that I hope you will join me in. Pray more; complain less. Pretty simple, but I know it’s not going to be easy. I’m writing those words on a sticky note and putting it on my computer right now so I can see it every day this week. I have a feeling Jesus is going to teach me a lot this week.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach