And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It isbecause we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?Matthew 16:5-10
And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?Mark 8:13-21
Always the Master Teacher, Jesus once again uses the forgetfulness of His disciples as a good teaching moment! I know that the overall lesson in this passage regards avoiding false doctrine but the premise Jesus uses is one about forgetfulness.
He reminds the disciples that they had just seen two huge miracles where Jesus feeds very large multitudes, and yet they now worry once again about having enough bread for a single meal. How quickly our minds can be turned away from the memories of the promises of God fulfilled in our lives! A little (or large) distress opens our minds to doubting and wondering if the Lord truly does care for us. Oh, how quickly we forget! And Oh, what a tremendous dishonor to God that is!
We should always be counting our blessings, but when we are in distress, we should remind ourselves even more what God has done for us both on the cross and in our daily walk in the past. David, on several occasions pleads past mercies as a ground for present deliverance.
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.Psalms 4:1
David remembered what God had done in the past so he takes that back to the Lord in prayer for deliverance. The result of such prayers brings confidence. This is not a false confidence in our ability to overcome. It is a confidence that God has promised to be with us and will never leave us. It is a confidence in the faithfulness of God even though we too often forget.
Let us be more like David who, even as a shepherd boy, cried out in the face of a giant:
And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.1st Samuel 17:34-36
Consider the simple but profound words of Johnson Oatman, Jr’s hymn “Count Your Many Blessings.”
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
The next time you forget the loving providence of God that is active in your life, start counting, and be SURPRISED!