The Blessing of Leftovers

by Shala W. Graham November 23, 2023
“After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’” John 6:12 (NLT)

The notification on my phone said I had a new message in my “bestie” group chat. The text read, “Shala, this cake is gonna be big. I may need you to come pick up some leftovers!”

This SOS message required only one reply from me: a GIF that said, “I’m in!”

Thank God for leftovers, right?

It’s common knowledge among my friends that my sweet tooth stays ready, so it doesn’t have to get ready! The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as I had just left the grocery store with four tubs of ice cream to weather the storm of hosting people in my home over several days. It was like God knew I needed a cake topped with an explosion of unicorn sprinkles to complete my pending sugar coma.

My friend had been making a three-layer cake for her daughter, but the recipe made four layers. Still frantic that she wouldn’t have enough, she prepared a little extra of everything. The leftovers made a whole cake that would let me live my best sprinkle-covered life, and I have pictures to prove it!

We stood in her kitchen, laughing about the “miracle” leftover cake, as she gave me ample warning to be careful with the giant, round sprinkles that might crack my teeth. It might seem like a small thing, but it brought us together that day and brought joy to both of our lives. Leftover cake served as a sweet reminder that God is a God of abundance — He delights in taking care of us and giving us good gifts.

God took my friend’s fear of not having enough cake and used it to provide leftovers, for which we gave thanks and ensured we did not waste it! This cake even reminded me of how Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 people in John 6, when His disciples also experienced the fear of not having enough.

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was sitting down on a hill with His disciples when a vast crowd came looking for Him because they had seen His miracles. Testing His disciple Philip, Jesus turned to him and asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (John 6:5, NLT).

Having no viable solution to this gigantic problem, another disciple, Andrew, pointed out that a young boy nearby had five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:8-9). Jesus, already knowing what He was going to do, told everyone to sit down on the grassy slopes.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’ So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves” (John 6:11-13, NLT).

Today, in the United States, many families gather to give thanks for all the ways God has blessed and provided for them. Maybe you can recount episodes in your life when you feared you didn’t have enough for your 5,000-people-sized problem (or your three-layer cake), but somehow God provided so well that you had leftovers.

Or maybe you are one of the people whose favorite part of the holiday weekend is Thanksgiving leftovers! We say “hallelujah” to no more striving in the kitchen or waiting hours to eat! For days after the big meal, if you're blessed with some leftovers, let them remind you we serve a more-than-enough God who invites you to trust Him with all your worries.

Dear reader, can I challenge you to have the eyes of Andrew to look around you for the loaves and fishes in your life? What you have may seem scarce, but we serve a God who excels in the leftover business!

Father, we give You thanks. Whether we gather around a big table or sit with a small bowl, we carry in our hearts the everyday miracles only You could accomplish, from the sun rising to the breath filling our lungs. We offer You the modest loaves and fishes of our lives, wanting You to multiply us for the benefit of our communities. May our lives always be filled with thanksgiving. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


How can we bring our best selves into the relationships we care about? This is one of the questions Lysa TerKeurst, Jim Cress and Dr. Joel Muddamalle tackle in the newest season of Therapy & Theology, titled “I Want To Be More Self-Aware.” Watch the first episode on YouTube here!

Do you ever find yourself short of words when you pray for your child? Lysa TerKeurst understands. That’s why she’s providing biblical guidance and scripts you can borrow in this podcast episode titled “Five Prayers for Your Child.” Listen here!



Visit Shala W. Graham’s website, Calling Qualified Ministries, to access free resources to activate you in your calling to Jesus.

You can also find Shala on Instagram for more everyday reminders of God’s unlimited truths.


Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings” (NLT).

We are surrounded by God’s miracles (with leftovers) every day. Take time to reflect and journal or share with someone how God has solved a seemingly impossible problem for you. Let’s give God thanks!

We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2023 by Shala W. Graham. All rights reserved.

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