The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
I used to be a Crusader leader at a group in Redhill. Several of my school friends were also leaders, and as well us providing us with a great opportunity to learn more about God, it was also a great social occasion. My group of friends was nicknamed ‘the mafia’ by Mick, the senior leader, presumably because we used to operate as a group, and carried out all kinds of activities. One of the activities we used to run was a small tuck shop. In the summer months, I would visit Iceland (the freezer shop, not the country!) with my mum before the meeting, and buy up lots of ice creams to sell at our tuck shop. We invariably had too many, and at the end of the meeting had several left over. Faced with the problem of having lots of ice creams, but no freezer, we usually ended up eating them ourselves. This was a sure fire way of ensuring that we made very little profit!
We usually started off with too many ice creams in the first place. When Jesus fed the four thousand, however, he started off with just seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. Now, I’m no expert in catering, but I would think that seven loaves and a few fish is probably, under normal circumstances, not going to be enough to feed four thousand people. Yet, when Jesus is around, it does exactly that. In fact, not only was there enough food for everyone to eat their fill, but there were seven baskets of surplus food!
We can see from both this passage and the feeding of the five thousand that if we are prepared to listen to God, and to put our trust in him, he will provide for us. It is clear, though, that he will not just provide sufficient to sustain us, but more than we need. That is not to say that things won’t necessarily be difficult at times – some of the most famous believers have gone through periods of hardship. But if we trust in the Lord, he will ensure that we are provided for and cared for. He may not always respond to our needs in the way we are expecting him to, but if he cares for us enough to send his own son to die on a cross for us, he will watch over us and look after us.