For many of us, there is a paradox we struggle with everyday: We are smart, capable, and strong…and yet we feel powerless in many aspects of our lives. To make matters worse, during those times when we feel helpless or out-of-control, there never seems to be enough time, enough money, or enough willpower to resolve our problems.
Feeling like I can’t handle things in my life is crazy-making for me, and I confess that in situations like this, my first impulse is to rearrange everything to try to address that problem on my own. And so my life shifts to center on wherever the issue is this time: work, family, health, relationships. And when I let these concerns become the center of my life, everything seems to become a frustrating chore at which I struggle with all my might to do enough. But in the end, I always find that I by myself cannot achieve the “enoughness” I so crave, and I wonder if maybe the reason why I can’t do enough is because I am not enough.
That question of “am I not enough?” can be a scary one. But if I sit in prayer with it and bring it to God, I begin to understand where that wonderful feeling of “enoughness” truly does come from. When I suppose my problems to be the most important things in the world, and when I am beset by the sense that I am not enough, it means that not only have I misunderstood who I am, but I’ve also misunderstood something much more profound—I’ve misunderstood who Jesus is.
As I read through the New Testament with Vintage through the F260 New Testament Bible Reading Plan for this year, I find myself drawn again and again to those moments when Jesus transforms the lives of those in need, providing that “enoughness” where before there was only want and fear: the widow’s two coins were enough, even though she was poor; the devotion shown by the sinful woman at the Pharisee’s banquet was enough, even though she was a social outcast; the crowds who came to hear Jesus teach all ate and were filled, even though the disciples only had five loaves and two fishes. These problems—poverty, isolation, food insecurity— were no less real and frightening for them than they are for us today, and while they may manifest differently, their resolution is still the same. By surrendering their problems to Jesus, these people allowed the center of their efforts to turn to trusting him, to worshipping him, and in that moment Jesus created abundance, joy, and gratitude for them.
What this all means for me is that no matter how deeply I care about a specific problem, or how important I think it is, I cannot do enough to solve it by making it the center of my life. And that’s not because I’m not capable, strong, or smart. It’s because I was not created to provide “enoughness” for myself; that job belongs to Jesus. What is my job in all this, then? It is simply to worship Jesus, and in so doing to surrender my life (and all those crazy-making problems) to him. Now, because I’m human, I’ll slip up and fool myself again and again that I can do enough all by myself. And I know when I do this because I suddenly find myself back at square one, suffering and asking, “am I not enough?” Perhaps the most humbling thing for me—and the thing I’m most grateful for—is that no matter how many times I forget, that many times and more, Jesus is there to receive me, to allow me to let him be at the center of my life, so that I can do what I was created to do, and most importantly so that he can do what only he can do: To be enough, no matter what.