The Upside of Destitute

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught” (John 21:9–10, esv).

The disciples were destitute. After His resurrection, Jesus had appeared to them several times. Then, inexplicably, He was gone. They were confused and hurting, feeling abandoned by Jesus, even rejected. Without the Savior who had become everything to them and without the Holy Spirit that was promised to take His place, these men—who had been closest to Him on earth—had neither. The Twelve were in need, and it was extreme.

Devoid of, deprived of, lacking something needed—that’s what it is to be destitute. If you’ve been there or you are there now, you know it’s brutal.

Destitute is the man who is out of work, with mouths to feed and doctor bills piling up, filled with mounting fear. It’s the couple struggling with infertility or the spouse betrayed and out of hope. It’s the orphan with no family and no prospect of adoption, feeling forlorn and utterly alone.

The disciples were destitute, and that’s where Jesus met them.

Sweating over their nets, they fished all night without a single catch. Now, had they listened to Jesus, they wouldn’t even have been there. He told them to wait for Him in Jerusalem. Instead, returning to what was familiar, the men were fishing unsuccessfully in Galilee.

Until a voice called from the shore. “ ‘Children, do you have any fish?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some’ ” (vv.5–6a). Though the disciples weren’t clued in to whose voice it was, they followed the instruction and caught an instant boatload—so many fish they could not haul in their net.

Recognizing the One behind this miracle, John cried, “It is the Lord!” Peter, compelled to get to Jesus, “threw himself into the sea” (v.8). As he swam to shore, the other disciples came behind dragging in their massive catch.

They saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish that you have just caught. When they reached land, did these men who had been destitute just minutes before get an earful for their disobedience? Their noses rubbed in their faithlessness? No, they got breakfast. And they got Jesus, doing what He always did: feeding His disciples and evidencing His love.

When we’re in deep need, the same can be true—because even today Jesus is with the destitute. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit(Psalm 34:18). God stands ready to demonstrate the futility of our efforts apart from Him. And when the time is right, He will provide in abundance in the way He deems best.

If you have an immense need, be assured that God is near. He moves toward those who are humble enough to recognize their lack of capacity without Him—disciples who are ready to jump in the water at the sound of His voice. As surely as Jesus was standing on that shore, He is available to minister to you right now.


  • In what areas of your life have you given up hope?
  • How would your circumstances and struggles be different if you acknowledged Christ’s presence and allowed Him to enter into them?

Lord, the future rests on Your shoulders, and my future rests there, too. Help me to live that way. Remind me that the world is passing away, but You and Your Word remain. Thank You for the reminders that ultimately depending on anything or anyone other than You is doomed to failure and disappointment. You never fail and your faithfulness is new every morning! Your peace endures and passes understanding. I thank You and honor Your name, Jesus. Amen.