By Debbie Shope
Recently, our family, or at least I, have developed a great attachment to a number of the Brit Crimes on PBS. One such show is called Grantchester, about an Anglican priest, Sydney, who solves mysteries. A secondary storyline, though, is that the woman he loves got tired of waiting for him to ask and married someone else. Naturally her marriage is unhappy, which, conveniently for the writers, leads to a lot of drama and internal struggle. At one point in this moral crisis, Sydney decides he needs to leave the priesthood and go off wandering to figure this all out. Before he leaves, his superior queries if he has prayed and asked God about this. As he leaves, Sydney answers, “I did ask God. He didn’t answer.”
At this point, as a Christian I want to yell, “Sydney, you dolt! We love Amanda too, but she’s married! God did answer! Remember the ‘Thou shalt nots’. Adultery is one of the big ten.” And then, in my hypothetical session with Sydney, I show compassion and empathy and in the end, ever so gently and with great wisdom, tell him that “No matter how lost or lonely, God is enough”. And … transition to real life … I do believe that is true: totally and without exception. I also believe that, in our experience, life is not always easy, and that both of these truths exist together.
God is enough. But what does that mean when we don’t have the money to feed our children? When our job or friends have disappeared? What about when we are so overcome with grief or hurt or loneliness and feel so broken that we don’t know if we’ll ever be whole again? I wish I knew the answer. I wish I had magical words and the perfect Scripture verse to stop the pain, fix the need, and defend God’s sufficiency.
What does it mean for God to be “enough”? I tend to think enough is when a need has been met adequately. I have enough money to buy groceries. My relationships provide enough intimacy for me to feel fulfilled. My job is enough to meet my career aspirations. Until it isn’t.
What if, in our times of deepest despair, God chooses not to meet the particular need that we bring to him, but to meet an even greater need instead? I think this is what happened in the book of Job. If ever anyone had needs, it was Job. He needed answers about why, not to mention physical healing, a family and money. But God didn’t meet those needs — at least not initially. God knew that what Job needed more than any of those things was God Himself. And in the experience of knowing God, that turned out to be enough.
To stand in the Almighty’s presence, to explore the depths of who He is and His love for us, is a place without need. If God in all His perfection is present in every time and place, how could there possibly be a place or a moment that is not filled? He truly is enough, even if I can’t see it or understand it at the moment, because there is one other thing I know to be true: When the darkness passes and we are able to look back, we will always find that God was enough. Maybe I need to extend a little more grace to Sydney.