“And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven” (16:1). Of course, this is not the last time these guys will test Jesus (see Matthew 22). Jesus warned his disciples about these guys by using the analogy of leaven and explaining that the Pharisees’ teachings, like leaven in bread, worked their way into everything and brought terrible consequences. Now, in this context, the disciples grew hungry but realized they had no bread to eat. I love Jesus’ answer (I have often referred to this text.): “But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” (16:7-10).
The disciples despaired because they had no bread. But they had Jesus with them! They had seen him multiply the loaves and fishes. They should have remembered and known what Jesus could do. They should have found hope and encouragement in remembering what he had previously done. Similarly, in his despair, Asaph had forgotten God’s past faithfulness but arrived at a solution: “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:10-12). As I have put it, sometimes, if we cannot find God in the present, we can find him in the past. Remembering how he has always been faithful to us in the past, we conclude that he will continue to be so, for he is never changing. With the psalmist, we testify, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)
Are you heavy laden and with sorrow tried?
Look to faith to Christ, your Helper, Friend, and Guide;
Think of all your mercies, such a boundless store,
Tears will change to praises as you count them o’er.
Count your mercies, such a boundless store,
Count your mercies, pressed and running o’er,
All your mercies, count them o'er and o’er,
Lost in love and wonder at the boundless store. -- Flora Kirkland (19th century; born in KY!)