Tag Archives: strength

31-Day Writing Challenge—Day 4 :: Comfort


What word comes to mind when you want to strengthen someone? Whatever it is, I’d bet it’s not today’s word-du-jour in the 31-Day writing challenge.

I’m a words guy, so when faced with such a common word as comfort I decided to look it up—and what I found surprised me. The first definitions, both as verb and noun, had to do with strength. And there I was, pre-dictionary, with images of lying warm in bed, soft blanket pulled tight up to my chin, huddled down in—you guessed it—comfort. That image feels anything but strong.

Are you comfortable? Let me get you another pillow, a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate.

Yet as I ponder these newly-revealed etymological mysteries, it all makes sense. When do we need comfort? When we’re sad, scared, cold, tired, lonely. What does comfort do? It strengthens our heart from sad to glad, from scared to courageous; it warms our cold muscles, offers companionship to our loneliness, energy in our fatigue. It strengthens.

Maybe we don’t need to “get out of our comfort zone” after all. Maybe we need to get right into the middle of it—that place where we are strongest, most confident, most able to live out our unique calling for the world.

This entry is part of the 31-Day Writing Challenge 2021 from Five Minute Friday.

How Many Loaves?


BrotchenJust looking at this picture makes my mouth water for the Brötchen I gobbled down during my high school days in Germany. I’ve never found them anywhere else—certainly not as good. Crunchy crust (but not too), tender inside…and always best first thing in the morning, fresh out of the baker’s oven.

Bread figures prominently in the Bible; numerous stories in both Old and New Testaments center around people who want bread, and how God miraculously provides it. Maybe that’s why Jesus is called “the Bread of Life.”

The Gospel of Mark (chapters 6 and 8) records two such bread-related miracles. In both, crowds of people—multiple thousands—have come to Jesus for healing and to hear him teach. Jesus’ disciples keep looking at their watches and finally suggest gently that it’s getting late and shouldn’t we send the people home for dinner? But Jesus has a different idea.

How many loaves do you have?

What?! The question is ludicrous! But Jesus keeps a straight face, just a hint of a knowing smile touching the corners of his lips. And the disciples—trying hard not to show their disbelief—offer the count: five loaves and two fish on the first occasion; seven loaves and a few small fish the second time.

You’ve probably heard the stories. Jesus asks the crowds to sit, says a prayer of thanks, and starts breaking the lunch into pieces. Basket after basket is filled, passed around, and brought back for more. And still Jesus sits, quietly breaking the bread. Seconds are passed around, then thirds. Soon the full baskets are passed and no one can eat another bite. Twelve full baskets remain; seven on the second occasion.

We read these stories and our immediate thought is, “Wow! Jesus did an amazing miracle! The disciples must have been stunned by that display!” Maybe. But did they learn anything? Not much—just a few verses later, Jesus has to ask, “Do you not yet understand?” The answer is clear: No.

But there’s something different we need to read in these passages, too: a difference of perspective. Notice the disciples’ thoughts: we obviously can’t feed these people; they should leave so they can find dinner. They look at the need, the lack. It’s what you might call “a poverty mentality.”

Jesus, on the other hand, had a Kingdom perspective; a power mentality. He didn’t look at the need, but at the resources: the bread, his own compassion, and God’s power. And with gratitude, he put those resources together to feed the crowds.

It’s so easy for me to look at what I don’t have: my weaknesses, the strengths and experience a would-be employer wants that I lack, a dwindling bank account. And my response is like the disciples: I go off on my own to try to find what I need.

But what if I had Jesus’ perspective? What if I looked at the little I have—my seven loaves—and gave them to Jesus to pray for, bless, and multiply. What might he do with them?

How many loaves do you have?