Is Jesus enough? This question has been sitting heavy on my mind for a while, along with a load of guilt that a person who claims to love Him would dare to raise such an audacious doubt.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months talking with people (my favorite thing) about hurt and brokenness in their lives (not my favorite thing). This has increased as I’ve been at camp this summer, and my heart is breaking again and again with each new week and the fresh stories of pain that the girls in my cabins carry with them to quiet countryside of Allegan, Michigan. Beechpoint has an amazing ministry to inner-city kids from Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids and other places, and we often get children from rough situations. These little humans bring with them a tangled mess of brokenness that has given me a run for my money as a camp counselor this summer. I pray hard every day that I’m doing more good than harm. I pray that God will make me what they need. I pray that God will work through me and despite me. And I have had some wonderful, God-ordained conversations where I’ve done my best to share the greatness and goodness of our God, and through God-ordained circumstances, I pray that I’ve been able to show to them the love of our God. Both of those are incredible opportunities that I’m so thankful for, but my girls still have to go home after a week of playing and singing and learning, and I know that the brokenness that is threaded through their home lives does not go away.
My instinct is to swoop in and fix their situations, but I’m way too removed and completely ill-equipped to do that. So then I want to give them a rosy promise that Jesus will fix their lives. But they often come from messy, broken situations where they cannot go home and just expect everything will be better. Jesus is probably not going to fix everything. So what do I have left to offer?
What do I have to offer, if Jesus is not going to make everything good? I want answers, I want solutions. I want to offer a 5 step program that will end in walking in perfect harmony with Jesus and seeing all sin put away forever. I want to turn icky situations into rosy ones. I want to promise that Jesus is going to fix broken families and restore relationships and fill empty bellies and right injustice all around the world, today, forever. But what if I can’t offer that to people? Is Jesus still enough?
Is Jesus enough? Is that even a question I’m even allowed to ask?
I took a philosophy class this past spring (one of the best and also most dangerous things I’ve ever done for my mind) and I wrote my term paper about a man named Camus who asked the hard and basic questions of life and refused the easy answers. That landed him in this philosophical camp called “absurdism”, which insists that instead of comforting yourself with “easy” answers (yes, life has meaning, yes, there is a good reason for all the evil in the world, etc.) we should accept and somehow attempt to live comfortably inside of the “random, absurd, and meaningless” thing that life is.
Sorry to pull that out on you. I’m sure you so don’t care about my philosophy final. The point of all that was to say that although I don’t agree with this man’s conclusions, I think there is something valuable there. We lose credibility and we lose honesty when we insist that everything makes perfect sense and when we settle for easy answers.
The truth is, Jesus does not always make everything better. There is still the problem of pain. There is still hurt and hunger and harm happening all around the world that blows my mind and breaks my heart. I was working with my church’s junior high a few months ago and one of the girls asked me “I get that Jesus had to wait for the perfect time in history to come and stuff, but why didn’t He make all evil go away after He died on the cross? Does Jesus want people to keep hurting?” And you know what I told this sweet girl? “That’s a great question. There is not really a good answer for it. That question is the reason a lot of people become atheists.” I wish you could have seen her face when I said that. (That is probably why they don’t usually let me work with the youth group…)
But I am coming to realize it is not my responsibility to offer solutions. I cannot hold all the answers or produce perfect explanations by myself, and that is okay. I often pressure myself with making sure that I know its possible for everything to get better in someone’s life before I offer them the gospel, because I don’t want to see Jesus fail. But that’s not a responsibility I want to or am able to carry. All I can do is love, help in small ways, and point to Jesus, praying that He will be enough for them.
I want to wrap this post up with an easy answer, sunshine and optimism, and a quick cliche about how it takes the rain to see the rainbow. But that would defeat this whole post and also go against my own pursuit of honesty. Jesus does not always make things better, not the way I want Him too.
But I do still believe He is good. And I still believe He is enough.
It just doesn’t always look the way I would like and too often doesn’t feel the way I wish. So we continue to pray, asking for healing for the hurt and helpless. We continue to be the hands and feet, seeking to bring justice and love to the brokenness. And, in the best, questioning, stumbling way that we can, we continue to trust that He is good. He has control. And He is enough.
It doesn’t always make sense, and we don’t have to pretend that it does. But I’ve experienced God’s healing in my life. I’ve seen Him restore lives. I know that He can and does get into the darkness and shine His marvelous light. And I’m choosing to believe that He is still in the process of continuing to make all things new.