This year, myriads of people have been subjected to unwanted events: masks, restrictions, social distancing, illness, job loss, economic hardship. That list applies to Covid-19, but doesn’t even include the ” normal” hardships that are so much a part of life. People everywhere are experiencing hard things.
So let me ask you a question that I have been asking myself.
Is Jesus really enough for you?
About a year ago, we hosted a visitor to L’viv who had every excuse to become a victim to circumstances. He lost a beloved daughter in a tragic accident. A few years later, his spouse died after battling a difficult disease. As we sat around the table with him over tea and strawberry pie, I marveled that this man was making us all laugh! Despite what he had gone through, he had evident joy in the Lord, confidence in His God, and optimism for the future. A will to live well, as it were.
One morning shortly after his visit, I distinctly remember sitting at my dressing table, distressed by several situations in my life. A few were petty: I had been overworked, overlooked. People who should have helped me had left me bearing a load alone. This I felt I could get over reasonably soon by some adjustments to my thinking. But other hurts ached from a place deep within– relationships I couldn’t change for the better, an unmet longing, a child who was giving me grief. I couldn’t settle them so easily. Would they ever be settled?
As I looked in the mirror, I thought of our “visitor-overcomer” and was determined not to become a victim to my hurts, petty or otherwise. But I wondered, what was the secret? How to keep the pain from overwhelming you? Most people have experienced deep pain at some point or other – loneliness, dashed dreams and plans, chronic illness, the loss of a loved one. Even the accumulation of small, repetitive stresses wear us down like water dripping on rock. What was the difference in a person who became a “helpless” victim, controlled and defined by their circumstances, and another who was an overcomer, walking in hope and faith?
The answer sounds trite, but it’s nonetheless true.
I don’t have to be a victim in any circumstance, because of CHRIST. Because in Him is all fullness, all hope, all wisdom, all knowledge, all supply, all mercy, all compassion—all I ever need.
There is no circumstance that is not more than matched in the identity of Jesus Christ and His promises. This is true regardless of what I feel, but walking in that truth is another matter.
If I really believe Christ is more than enough, will I wallow in discouragement? Or fret with worry? Or let hurt fester into bitterness? Either He truly is my hope, or else I have no hope. Which option do my thoughts, attitude, and demeanor reflect?
Think of this:
Jesus is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all I ask or think. He is my refuge and strength, my help in time of trouble. He never leaves me. He upholds my steps. He guides me with his eye. He has laid up goodness for me. He is the strength of my life and the health of my countenance. He puts breath in my lungs and holds the planets in orbit by the word of his power. He is mighty to save. His blood washes away all my sin and he gives me eternal life! His greatness is unsearchable. His power is limitless. Death could not hold him!
Christ is enough, but do we live as if we believe it? Others who have gone before us have. Horatio Spafford, after losing his four precious daughters to shipwreck, penned It is Well with My Soul. Blind Fanny Crosby expressed it in her exuberant hymn, Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Paul was able to write from a fetid prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always!”
I have not mastered this Christ-focused perspective. Not even close. I can still get bent out of shape when the vacuum cleaner breaks repeatedly or my afternoon doesn’t go as planned. But I’m practicing. I want to keep turning my eyes toward him and His promises. I believe this is done moment by moment, day by day, in replacing anxious thoughts with His Word, in clinging to His promises, in taking my pain to Him in prayer, in choosing to walk by faith and not by sight.
To be clear, I have no desire to trivialize sorrow and pain. There truly are sorrows so great and overwhelming that a person can do nothing but allow God to carry them through. And there is a time for grieving and pain to have expression. In this too we see hope – that when we are weak, He is strong. When we cannot, He is able.
As Christians, our hope and confidence is that Christ is enough– for our salvation, and for everything else. This hope is sure and steadfast– now we need to walk in it!
“…In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:37