There was plenty of grass in that place, so they sat down. The men numbered about 5,000. Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated — so also with the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were full, He told His disciples, “Collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.” So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. -John 6:11-13
As I was driving this morning, this passage surfaced on my audio Bible. As I listened to this very familiar passage, I was struck by something that had not stood out to me in the past. In verse 11, Jesus tells his disciples to collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted. Right there. Those three words; nothing is wasted.
If you are like me, you love leftovers. I will try and eat every last ounce of food in the fridge so that I do not have to throw it out. Certain foods seem to get tastier as they marinate in the fridge for a day or two. But alas, there always comes a time where I miss that one Tupperware shoved to the back when the new groceries get delivered to the front row. Eventually, when said Tupperware is found, I have to throw it out. It has been too long, to my dismay, and the food has spoiled.
For those of us who are in Christ, this will never be the case. Nothing is ever wasted with God. What a refreshing thought. There will be no spoiled leftovers with Jesus. In another famous passage, Paul has just communicated the depth of understanding that the Holy Spirit has in those He indwells. He weeps with us and prays on our behalf. And then, in famous finale, Paul writes,
“For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”-Romans 8:28
We could spend days parsing and picking apart this verse. God recalled this verse to my memory this morning. For those who love God and have accepted His call in their lives, everything will work together for His glory and our good. Again, NOTHING is wasted.
The degree you never finished? Nothing is wasted. The years you spent living an unhealthy lifestyle? Nothing is wasted. The countless “failures” and “oops”? Nothing is wasted. That decision you wish you had or had not made? Nothing is wasted. The waiting period in-between seasons? Nothing is wasted. The church hurt from your past? Nothing is wasted. The lost friendship? Nothing is wasted. The 45 minutes you took to get your kids to church? Nothing is wasted. The successes you have experienced? Nothing is wasted.
I felt this enormous wave of peace crash over my heart as those words sunk in. I do not know what the future holds. Just like everyone else there are times I look back over my past and wonder what would have happened if I did something differently. Just like everyone else I hit seasons of waiting and trial. Let us not forget that God does not waste anything. He does not waste time. He does not waste opportunities. He does not waste relationships. Nothing that is placed into the ever loving hands of God will ever be wasted, forgotten, or misused.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, you have been placed into His hands. The result is this: nothing in your life is wasted. Even your mistakes and deepest sins. Why? Because Jesus Christ’s sacrifice has covered over it all. We must be careful not to use His grace as a license to sin, but when we do, His redemption turns our failures into a testimony for His glory. Without Him, every moment of our lives would ultimately end with no purpose. In Him, every single action is used for His glory and our good.
In your waiting, praying, and hoping. In your joy, sorrow, and work. In your obedience, sin, and confession. May we find rest in this truth as we remember that with God, nothing is wasted.