Ever felt like an imposter? Inadequate? Try being Jessica Lynch. Try being a disciple tasked to feed 5000 people.
Being a War Hero
Jessica Lynch was only 19 when she became one of the Iraq War’s first war heroes.
Her name was all over Fox and CNN. Her story, legend. Just the boost Americans needed to hear after the 9/11 attacks.
According to Pentagon reports, Lynch made her capture difficult for the Iraqis. On March 23, 2003, Iraqi forces ambushed her convoy. The only survivor and badly injured, she had her M-16. And like in a Rambo movie, she fired away until she had no ammo left.
Once captured and taken to a hospital, she was tortured and abused. Nine days later, US special forces rescued her.
Great story! Very inspirational.
But there’s the problem. A lot of what’s been said about Lynch never happened.
As she tells it, a rocket-propelled grenade came out of nowhere and struck her Humvee. The driver lost control, slamming into another truck in the convoy.
And she was no Rambo! In fact, her weapon was jammed.
Her battle injuries? They were the kind anyone would get from a major car wreck. Lynch was too weak from the wreck to resist capture.
Last week CNN did a special “where are they now?” segment on Lynch. Twelve years have passed since she became a “war hero”.
People still look to her as an inspiration, a survivor. But behind her brave face is a darkness. “People expect me to be doing OK,” she said. “They expect that I should be perfectly fine now.”
To this day, she doesn’t feel as if she should have died. Her best friend Lori, who died in the same wreck, should’ve been the one talking to CNN.
Knowing what she and other war veterans have gone through, they are heroes. And yet Lynch remains unconvinced, undeserving of such praise.
Feeding of the 5000: “What Are They Among So Many People?”
Many of us can relate to the strong negative feelings Lynch possesses. It’s called the imposter syndrome.
The imposter syndrome is something many people go through. People look to you and know how great a person you are. You’ve accomplished this, you’re talented in that, you’re gifted at this, you have a great personality.
You hear all this. You humbly thank them. But deep down you can’t accept it. It’s like they are talking about someone else.
Psychological research says that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds. And that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another.
One of the smartest people of the 20th century Albert Einstein felt that people’s opinion of his work was overly-exaggerated. He confided to a friend just before he died, “I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
The imposter syndrome seems to help explain why the faith of the disciples seems to go up and down.
You can see it in John’s version of the story (John 6:1-14). Thousands of people traveled for miles to just see Jesus. They came to hear his every word. To just be near this great man.
Jesus looked to the crowds and saw a need: we need to feed all of these people. And so he turns to his disciples to take care of it.
One disciple named Phillip complained to Jesus. He said, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.
Peter’s brother Andrew also had doubts. He said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
We know how the story ends. Jesus takes what little food the disciples gathered and it was more than enough. In fact, they end up with twelve baskets filled with leftover bread–much more than what they started off with.
Unlike us, the disciples were in the physical presence of Jesus. They’ve seen with their own eyes everything Jesus can do. And yet they still doubted.
It’s not that they lacked faith. They gave up their livelihoods to follow Jesus. Up until this point in the Jesus story, no one wimped out on Jesus and went home.
No, it is just like what I’ve mentioned in Jessica Lynch’s story. Even though the fabricated story of her heroics was revealed, the nation still saw her as a hero. She hears it. She sees it. And yet she hasn’t internalized it yet.
They hadn’t yet fully accepted how real Jesus was. Their faith in Christ needed to deepen. To be ingrained into their soul so deep that doubting God would be out of the question.
Yes, figuring out how to feed all of those people was a big problem. It just wasn’t a problem for Jesus.
Feeling Inadequate? Try Feeding 5000 Hungry People
As followers of Christ, we too go through the imposter syndrome. We too follow Christ, but we have our moments of doubt. We too have our moments that we can’t see what Christ sees.
Think about some big unsolvable problem going on in your life right now. A marital problem. Family issues. Money problems. Problems at work. Think of things going on in your life that you just can’t seem to fix.
As followers of Christ, we are no different from non-Christians. We see with our eyes, we hear with our ears and speak what’s in our hearts. Some days we feel like a winner; others, we don’t.
Where we differ is that our faith is not grounded upon our senses. Not upon our abilities or gifts or influence. Not even luck or in life going our way.
Our faith is grounded in upon what we know Christ can do.
Look again to the Feeding of the 5000. Like us, the disciples did as many of us do. They saw with their eyes—at the thousands of hungry people—and suddenly their faith is shaken. It seemed impossible!
But in the end, they chose not to let their circumstances—no matter how big it may be—prevent their faith in Christ from leading them.
The takeaway we get out of the Feeding of the 5000 is that the disciples are just like us.
There was nothing spectacular about them.Their level of faith was as strong as ours. When faced with an impossible task, they too felt too inadequate to deal with the situation. And yet, deep down, they knew that Jesus would never put them in situations they couldn’t handle.
Franciscan author Richard Rohr said it best. Like the disciples, you should pray as if everything depends upon you. But also to act as if it all depends upon God.