When God Doesn't Feel Like Enough

We are done – all of us – with shallow platitudes. We know they don’t change anything. But where is the line between platitude – “God is enough!” and the truth… that God is enough?

So many of us know what God has said about Himself, but we don’t believe it. We don’t believe Him. We wait to feel like God is enough before believing He actually is, and when the feelings don’t come, we assume God hasn’t either.

I’ve been in this place myself. I’ve resented the “God is enough” phrase and wondered at its legitimacy. I have compassion for the journey of faith because it IS, after all, a journey: A faith-walk with Jesus Christ. In moments of desperate overwhelm, simply stating “God is enough” doesn’t change how we think, feel, or act. So what does? If Jesus truly came to overcome the world (John 16:33), if we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:31-39), and if the God we serve is Jehovah God… how do we tap into this enough-ness in desperate times?

Jesus Overcomes (But Not for Me)

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus told His disciples. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Jesus promised us a life familiar with difficulty. He promised persecution, acknowledged suffering, and did not prophesy a life devoid of hard things. But in the midst of these hardships, Jesus promised us Himself. The key to eternity, the lifeblood of our beating hearts – Jesus Christ promised His presence to overwhelm our overwhelming days.

This is truth from the mouth of Jesus Himself. Is there a caveat? Is there an addendum?

  • “I have overcome your world… unless you have little kids.”
  • “I have overcome your world… unless you have a tough marriage.”
  • “I have overcome your world… unless you’re still single.”

There was no addendum to His promise, and there was no caveat to His command: Take heart. Have courage.

But we Christians? We talk about life as if there IS a caveat. As if the verse really reads, “He has overcome the world (but not for me).”

Do We Believe He is Who He Says He Is?

I have doubted God’s enough-ness, His sufficiency, at several moments in my life, but a few stand out in particular: Before Josh and I got engaged, during my pregnancy with Adeline, in Josh’s job loss, and when I went three weeks overdue with Eva.

Each of these seasons brought me face-to-face with my own unbelief: An unbelief that Christ’s “overcoming” was applicable to my situation. My faith in His goodness and His ability thus challenged, I was forced to acknowledge that I did NOT believe God was good for His word. I had “faith” in theory, but not faith in actuality; not faith in God’s actual self. Mine was fair-weather faith, good for sunny days and useless in a storm.

Do you live this way? Do you follow Jesus, read about Him, sing to Him, but not really believe Him? It’s easy to do, but dear girl: This is not true discipleship. A disciple follows because she believes her Teacher knows what He’s talking about. And the most fundamental thing her Teacher knows is His own character.

Experiencing God as ENOUGH for our hardships begins by believing what He says about Himself:

  • He is Healer (Ex. 15:26)
  • He is merciful (Ex. 22:27)
  • He is slow to anger and full of love (Ex. 34:36)
  • He is security (Isaiah 28:16)
  • He is Savior (Isaiah 43:11)
  • He is trustworthy; His word always happens (Ezek. 12:25)
  • He is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6)
  • He is sustaining, Bread of life (John 6:48)
  • He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

These represent a small fraction of the promises God has made about Himself in the Word. These are what we trust. These are what we KNOW and BELIEVE – even when our emotions don’t align.

Experiencing Abundant Life

The hang up for most Christians when it comes to the sufficiency of God is not FACT but FEELING. We do not “feel” as if God is present, as if God is there, so we assume this means He isn’t. But what then is faith?! “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

The conviction of things not seen.

Experiencing God as fully enough for our circumstances doesn’t start with emotion. It starts with conviction. But if we live as if God is not enough, and we talk about God as if He’s not enough, why would we expect anything else? We aren’t looking for God to show up, so our eyes aren’t open to see Him move. We have no CONVICTION that God is good for His Word, so we are blind to His power.

God has not changed. He has not moved. The grace He proclaimed sufficient for Paul is sufficient for us today (2 Cor. 12:9). “My power is made perfect in weakness.” In other words: His strength, wisdom, love, and presence are at full throttle when you are at your weakest moment.

So why aren’t Christians experiencing this sufficiency? I think it’s because we do not persevere in seeking it. We do not persevere in seeking God. 

We want immediate “feelings” of sufficiency or at the very least a change in the situation, but God is too kind for that. God honors perseverant prayer. He honors the person who does not FEEL a change and still shows up and calls on His name – the person who cries out on his or her knees, “God I’m not MOVING until I see you!” Or like Jacob wrestling in the darkness: “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” (Gen. 32:22-30)

God honors this kind of faith in His ability and His goodness.

The sticking point, then, is our emotions. Our emotions cannot determine who God is; GOD determines who God is. And God’s revelation of Himself to us is what we trust in difficult times.

My question and challenge for you today: Have you opened the Word? Have you sought God fervently, perseverantly? If not, you can’t say God is not enough because you haven’t even ASKED HIM to be enough! You have not yet persevered in faith, fervently seeking the God who made and loves you.

This is not about forcing God’s hand. Scripture gives us evidence that God WANTS people who diligently seek Him and REWARDS them when they do (Deut. 4:29, Prov. 8:17, Matt. 6:33, Jer. 29:12-14, Heb. 11:6). And these rewards are not always material; in my personal experience, they rarely come in physical terms. The reward is the presence of God Himself in the midst of things too much for us.

The reward is His enough-ness.

I once heard peace described as a painting; not of a restful water scene or a garden, but of a dove resting in the cleft of a rock as a storm raged around her. Peace and sustaining grace do not guarantee or require a change of circumstance. God’s enough-ness is experienced in the very places we feel most overwhelmed and out of control. I have seen this with my own eyes. I have prayed on my knees at 3 AM, desperate for answers, finally willing to believe God because nothing else was worth believing.

Let me save you the trouble of trusting other sources. Persevere in faith. Have conviction before emotion. And keep a watchful eye for the saving power of your almighty, loving God.