It just didn’t sit right with me. But I didn’t know what to say.
My friend had just shared with me her struggle with cancer, and how she was dealing with it. She tried to laugh as she said, “I guess God knew I just needed more sanctification, so he gave me this trial.”
“I still have alot of growth in sanctification to do!” Another friend recently said to me, as I was following up with a prayer request for her to be patient as she visited a family member.
Now these words aren’t necessarily wrong. As Christians, those who have put their faith in Jesus’ work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, we all have ALOT of sanctification (growing in holiness) to do in this life.
The Bible clearly calls us to pursue repentance and holiness when we sin. (Hebrews 12:14)
But what didn’t sit well with me was that these were conclusions to the situations we were talking about.
You see, if through our trials and pain, our conclusion is that we need to do better, try harder, be stronger; we are living in condemnation. No matter how subtle that thought might be.
I know because I have struggled with this very thing too.
But the beautiful truth of the gospel is that the cross takes us past condemnation to what Jesus has already accomplished for us!
I was reading the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney this morning, and in chapter 12, C.J. asks,
“Do you relate to God as if you were on a kind of permanent probation, suspecting that at any moment He may haul you back into the jail cell of His disfavor?
Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.
It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned.”
Did you read that?! Those who trust in Christ can NEVER be condemned!!!!
How amazing is that! We deserve full condemnation because of our sin against God, yet Jesus takes that guilt completely away at the cross.
Not only are our sins taken away, but Jesus’ perfection is credited to us!!
That is reality.
And that should be the conclusion to our thoughts in every trial and persecution.
Don’t let your conclusions be condemning, self pity, or despair.
Through focusing on what the cross means in our lives, our conclusion to every trial can now be thanksgiving.
So what does that practically look like?
Let’s say my son disobeyed and in a moment of anger I lash out at him. Afterwards I struggle with guilty feelings that won’t go away. “I failed again. I really need to be more patient with my son”. See how the conclusion is a focus on my failure? And what I need to do differently?
Reminding myself of the gospel, this changes to, “I failed again. I really need to be more patient with my son. Lord forgive me for my anger. Thank you Jesus that because of your perfect life, this sin is not counted against me.” See how the conclusion changes to a focus on God’s grace toward me when I sin? And gratitude?
What about for my friends in the above examples? Can you think how to practically change the conclusions to their situations?
Let’s flesh this out together practically:
How about “I guess God knew I just needed more sanctification, so he gave me this trial.” (concluding with a focus on my own sin leading to despair)to
“This trial is very difficult and I know God is using it to grow me. Though I fail in faith at times I’m so glad He does not count that against me.” (concluding with a focus on Jesus no longer counting that sin against me)
“I still have alot of growth in sanctification to do!” (concluding with a focus on my own sin and how I need to do better)to“I still have alot of growth in sanctification to do! I am so thankful Jesus lived perfectly on my behalf!” (concluding with a focus on thanksgiving for Jesus’ perfect obedience to the Father that is credited to us)
You are not alone dear friend. If you have been struggling with feelings of despair and self condemnation, I am SO excited to see how your joy increases as you remind yourself of the gospel in every trial, and start applying it in your thought life.
If you don’t know Jesus, and this beautiful grace and freedom I am talking about, please check out my story and email me! There is nothing more important dear friend.
Last night, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. Psalm 23 kept repeating itself over and over in my mind. I knew there was a reason God brought it to me, so this morning I opened it up.
With pen and notebook handy, I dragged my heart through the text asking God what He wanted me to glean from it this time.
The refreshment this Psalm brought me was satisfying.
And I just know that someone out there needs this encouragement too.
Maybe right now you’re in a season of plenty. A season of joy. You’re experiencing and savoring the blessings of God.
Or maybe you’re in a trial. You’re not on the mountaintop; you’re stuck in the valley wondering when (and if) God will deliver you.
Whether you’re in a sunny or a stormy season, these 3 beautiful truths from Psalm 23 will refresh and revive you.
First let’s quiet our hearts for a moment… and read the passage. Though it may be familiar to you, let yourself linger.
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Shepherd
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus relates to us as our tender Shepherd? Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a sheep, but just pause and think of the analogy for a moment.
The Shepherd lovingly cares for His sheep. As Jesus Himself says in John 10, the Shepherd will protect the sheep from any danger.
Jesus cares for us so much that He promises to lead us to good places, restore our soul, and sanctify us for His Name’s sake.
I just love the word pictures here. Don’t you just imagine yourself there?! Don’t you walk away feeling soothed?
Green pastures – a good, fruitful place to rest. Still waters…beautiful, serene, meeting our thirst. And the loving Shepherd with us guiding us in His good ways.
Now pull yourself out of the picture for a moment, and realize that this is written for us.
Jesus is with us ALL the time. He desires intimacy with us! Now THAT just blows my mind!!! We constantly have access to our Savior. He is right there for us to talk to, seek counsel from, and enjoy at any and every point throughout the day. He never leaves His sheep.
As Jesus says in John 10:14, “I know my own and my own know me…” It’s an intimate relationship with Jesus himself leading, protecting, and loving us.
2. The Lord will never, ever, leave us or forsake us
When trials and temptations come, it’s easy to feel like God has left us. We wonder why we’re suffering and why we don’t seem to feel God’s presence.
But constantly God reminds us in His Word of two things – first that trials are from Him, and are good (James 2:1-4, 1 Peter 4:12-13); and secondly, that He NEVER leaves us (Psalm 37:28, Hebrews 13:5).
If you read verse 4 again picturing yourself there, it’s a very scary place to be. The valley of the shadow of death. The word picture here makes us think of the worst possible thing that could happen to us here on earth.
But the psalmist says he will fear NO evil. Why? Because he is strong and doesn’t need anybody? No!
Because His Shepherd is still there walking with him in that valley. He is not alone. And the Shepherd’s rod and staff show the Shepherd is still protecting us even in the trials.
No matter what trial we are in, God is still sovereign, He is strong, and He is with us.
As Charles Spurgeon said, “Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”
3. The Lord is eager to heap abundant blessings into our lives (v. 5-6)
Not only does God meet our needs, but He also lavishes us with good things!! “Our cup runneth over”.
This is not a prosperity gospel point. I’m not saying God’s biggest desire is to give you material riches.
He pours goodness and mercy into our lives and gives us not only salvation from God’s wrath, but the gift of Himself; intimacy with Him.
Look at what the psalmist says at the end of verse 6 – “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” That is what the psalmist longed for and enjoyed.
The psalmist enjoyed dwelling in the Shepherd’s presence.
So my question for you is – do you see your relationship with the Savior this way?
That He is a tender Shepherd, always providing for you, leading you, and lavishing you with good things?
That He is with you and you can talk to Him at any moment?
If you don’t, dear friend, stop and ask Him. Ask Him to give you eyes to see and know Him in this intimate way.
As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Hold on to the faithfulness of God. Believe, when you do not understand, that He knows all about you, that He is committed to taking care of you. He has promised it”
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
In light of the New Year, I was thinking through how we as humans thrive on fresh starts, new beginnings and reset buttons.
There is just something about January 1, that moment when the the clock strikes midnight that’s exciting! Magically, this year, all our goals really will be possible!
We want to be better.
We want to eat better. Look better. Be a better parent. Spouse. Have a better business or career.
And we want to be more.
More patient. More loving. More skinny. More of a “good person”.
I think we really just long to be perfect.
A month ago when everyone was writing New Years resolutions, I sat down and mulled over 2015, and tried to come up with a sentence that would inspire 2016.
But there was only one thought that came to mind. One piercing thought, as I thought of all the things I wanted to do, and needed to do, and all the unknowns ahead of me- the thought was,
I am completely inadequate!
That sounds depressing doesn’t it? I mean that’s not the typical inspirational blog you want to read. “I’m Inadequate and So Are You! Sorry!”
But the thing is… it’s actually true.
And contrary to what you may think – that thought is not a depressing one. It actually fills me with so much hope, and joy, and deflates the ever-filling bubble of pressure to be perfect!
You see, no matter how much I try,
I will never be as patient as I want to be to my little son.
I will never be as loving as I want to be to my husband.
I will never be perfect.
No matter how many twenty-something New Years that I write a resolution to DO better or do more or BE better or be more.
The definition of inadequate is “not adequate or sufficient; inept or unsuitable”. And the definition of sufficient is “adequateforthepurpose;enough.”
I’m definitely not sufficient for the tasks I have, and the hats I wear, and the roles I play as mom and wife and friend and sister. I get frustrated over the littlest things on a daily basis. It would be embarrassing if I detailed even the last 24 hours for you, and the ways I handled things wrongly in the moment, or said a rash word.
Contrary to today’s popular message,
I AM NOT ENOUGH.
How do you feel about that? Does it make you uncomfortable? I know, you probably want to give me a hug and tell me it’s ok. You wonder why I’m being so hard on myself. You want to give me a pep talk.
And I appreciate your motives because you care about me, and your heart’s desire is to lift my spirits.
But we have got to stop saying the wrong thing to each-other. We have to address this misplaced and misguided encouragement we so often give each-other.
The world boldy asserts, “You are Enough.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have been bombarded by this message by well meaning people.
And it sounds good …. we like to think we are strong. We like to think we don’t need anyone. We like to think that we are Enough.
But it’s Just. Not. True.
And if it isn’t true, then it isn’t good. So really, it’s not true and it’s not good to say or believe.
The statement “You are Enough” is a bit vague, but by reading multiple blogs on the subject, I have attempted to break down the thoughts and attitudes meant by this statement, and then share with you what I’ve learned on these subjects from the Bible.
Three Reasons Why We are Not Enough
We are not strong in our own strength
Take a look at what Paul says in his letter to the church at Corinth.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (emphasis mine)
The message, “You are Enough” says that you don’t need anyone else’s strength. You’re amazing just the way you are.
But in these verses Paul is basically saying, hey you’re not in the kingdom of heaven because you’re awesome, or strong, or amazing. In fact, you can’t put any confidence in yourself or your achievements. The only thing you can do is boast in what Jesus did on the cross and what He accomplished for you.
2. We are not worthy based on our own accomplishments
Now let’s take a look at what Paul wrote to the church at Philipi, in regards to his old identity and merits before he submitted his life to Christ.
“…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” – Philippians 3:4-9 (emphasis mine)
Basically before Paul’s conversion, his “resume” was the best it could be. He had all the religious merits and accomplishments that people around him longed for. He was considered a very important guy.
But Paul says all of his accomplishments were RUBBISH.
The message, “You are Enough” says You are worthy based on what you’ve done and your accomplishments.
But Paul says our accomplishments are RUBBISH. He says he never achieved his righteousness from obeying the law. What does matter is faith in Christ.
He points out that no matter how amazing our achievements, no matter how zealous we are, we are completely inadequate to present ourselves to God on our own merit, all the “amazing things” we think about ourselves don’t matter at all.
Paul didn’t revel in himself “being enough”. He counted all things as loss.
Can you imagine Paul, while he was in prison, receiving a reply letter from one of these churches saying, “Dear Paul, thank you so much for the letter. We know you’re struggling, but take heart. You are Enough.”
How ridiculous would that be?!
3. We are not good
Let’s look at a few verses that describe our true condition…
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8
““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”” – Romans 3:11-12
The message “You are Enough” says we are perfect just the way we are. That we are a good person. But these verses say apart from Christ, we are sinners, unrighteous, not good. Our human condition under the curse of sin is truly pitiful.
We are not good, but if we have put our faith in Jesus, we are MADE good by His substitutionary death.
So from those verses we understand that we’re not strong in our own strength, we aren’t worthy based on our own accomplishments, and we aren’t good.
But unlike us, Jesus is strong, Jesus is worthy, and Jesus is good.
Jesus is perfect and completely adequate.
By resting in Jesus’ adequacy on my behalf , I get my strength each day.
As 2 Corinthians 9:11 says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
If we were Enough, we wouldn’t need Jesus. And that’s the scariest place you or I could ever be. We are not Enough. But – praise God! – Jesus is. And in the shadow of His cross is the safest place you or I could ever be.
So that is why I get so filled with joy when I think about how inadequate I am – because immediately I have hope knowing that Jesus is more than adequate to make up for all my inadequacies!
And in that knowledge I can walk forward in life filled with real power and real strength. Because He never fails me.
Inadequacies in my parenting – His grace is near.
Inadequacies in my marriage – His forgiveness is sure.
Inadequacies in doing all the things I have to do – His grace is sufficient.
Do you see how pointing to Jesus being Enough is such a better response?
If your New Years resolutions included being more and doing more and hoping that “You are Enough” to accomplish your goals; and you feel that pressure and burden – take that yoke off of yourself, my friend.
Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. For all who turn from their sins and put their faith in what Jesus did on the cross – paying the penalty for sin that we deserve, there is that great exchange!!
My sin for His righteousness! My weakness for His strength!
And as believers, yes we are called to passionately pursue holiness, and to fight sin. But it’s never about adding to our own merit, but rather obedience and worship to the precious Savior.
So the next time a friend reaches out to you and tells you they just don’t feel like they’re enough, put your arm around them. Give them a little squeeze, and say something like,
“You know what you’re right. You’re not enough. And neither am I. But Jesus is, and how amazing that we can both rest in that.”
If this blog encouraged you, PLEASE let me know in the comments below!!!