When God is Not Enough
Very recently I experienced a major life storm. OK, let me stop lying. Truth be told, I am right in the middle of it at this very moment. Some days it is difficult to get out of bed, other days I wake up disappointed that I woke up alive.
As I talk to people and watch folks move through life, my senses are heightened and my eyes come open to the pain that tons of people are experiencing. I am not the only one. Whether it is something as traumatic as the recent attacks in Boston or as traumatic as the emotional and mental anguish that is felt day after day or losses – small and great; there are even some who can’t imagine life getting better and face each day with dread as they endure the illness of Depression and other emotional or mental illnesses. Sometimes life hits hard. Many times it is beyond our control.
As a person of faith my first instinct is to look in God’s direction for help. I look to God because I realize that I need a source greater than me to draw strength from. It’s almost automatic for me. However, as I hear statements such as: “You don’t know that God is all you need until God is all you have,” it makes me want to holler.
Some profess this as though it is absolute truth. Certainly I have had moments when things were stripped away and God proved to be present in the middle of it. But is God really enough? Is God all that we need? God is all powerful and all loving, yet in a crisis God is not all that we need. Sounds contradictory in a sense – “all” sufficient and yet not enough? Hard times have a way of revealing this. Hard times also raise awareness regarding what types of friends you have in your life. I have found that the following are some of the types in our lives.
Midnight Hour Friends – These are the people who you can call on and count on. They are dependable, they see through fake smiles and know how to reach into the core of your being and leave you feeling loved unconditionally.
Fair Weather Friends – They like to hang out with you when things are good and you have on your happy, fun face but disappear or stand aloof and gawk when times are tough for you, waiting for you to get it together so they can rejoin your presence.
Fickle Friends – They are unpredictable, you never know where you stand with them. They are usually unreliable and are great at making promises that they don’t keep – and they give you no explanation
New Friends – These are the relational surprises. When you met them, you never imagined that when things got tough they would be there with a shoulder to cry on and strength to lean on when you are weak.
Strangers who Behave Like Friends – These are the people you encounter from time to time who lend a helping hand when they see you in need (and they don’t expect anything in return except a “thank you).” They don’t know you well at all, but still care about you enough to help.
Faithful Friends – These are people who have seen you at your best and at your worst and still see you as valuable. They are confidants, conversation partners, people you can talk to for hours and have it seem like minutes. Everybody should have at least one or two of these.
I suppose we need all of these types of people in our lives. Sometimes the tricky part is figuring out who’s who and discovering that the folks you thought were one type of friend were actually another. But what is not tricky is knowing that we need more than God, we need each other.
On a personal note, if all a person has for me when I am in deep trouble, heart hurting, and a “can’t pick myself up” kind of pain is a sermon or a scripture to quote, keep that, because I can preach a sermon and read a scripture my damn self. But the ones I have found most helpful are people who can push past the religious jargon and egotistical tendencies to try and prove how spiritual they are and simply lend a listening ear, give a hug, and yes, let me yell a while when I need to without a whole lot of commentary or put “offness.” These things and more help people make it through life storms.
One of the many messages of the Resurrection of Jesus is that it’s not over when it looks like it’s over – there’s more to the story. I know this, but from time to time I must admit that I am a walking, living breathing contradiction, i.e. I believe yet I don’t believe. I believe need help with my unbelief. Some will be honest and admit that there is a level of hell that we can go through that can cause wondering, doubting, despair. We still have faith, but cannot and should not deny the struggle. The evidence that faith is still present is seen in our courageously getting out of bed day after day even when it doesn’t make sense to do so.
Sure, we have promises given by God [to others] as read in biblical text that modern readers can live by that inform faith in the ever present presence of God. But as God seems absent and inactive (and even when we sense and believe that he is present), we need the people who know us and love us to be there. God’s presence is not the only presence needed to sustain us through hard times. Each created person needs another created person (or two or three or more).
There are people who love me so deeply that they refuse to let me walk through life alone. These individuals grasp the concept of what it means to be the living, breathing, realized compassion of God and presence of love. Not only do I value them, I aim to be like them in this way – they show me how to care by caring.
During seasons of life when I experience more defeat than victory, more tears than smiles, and more frustration than peace, pious platitudes won’t do, neither will empty “I’ll pray for yous.” I need the physical presence of human beings whose compassion won’t let them abandon me. How about you? And more importantly, who can you be this kind of person for?