The Blessing of Never Being “Enough”
“You are not enough.” Not exactly a catchy slogan, is it? You probably won’t see that in fancy lettering on a cute, rustic sign anytime soon. In fact, there’s been a recent swell supporting the opposite message. It’s common to hear women affirm one another by saying, “It’s okay. You are enough.” It’s a mantra intended to lift us up when we feel unfit to live up to our obligations. But, do we really believe it? Maybe it’s just me, but I can think of plenty of times when my best effort hasn’t been enough to meet life’s demands. In fact, my best efforts fall short on a daily basis. Instead of comforting ourselves with a lie, we need to grasp the truth: only God is enough for everyone at all times. Our insufficiency is perfectly provided for because of God’s self-sufficiency.
God is self-sufficient in every sense of the word. He does not rely on any other being or substance for his existence or satisfaction at any time. All knowledge and wisdom come from him (Isaiah 40:12-14). God lacks nothing. He is complete in himself. If he ever needed anything, he would be incomplete and imperfect. In other words, he would not be God. This leads us to a logical conclusion: God doesn’t need you - or me - in any way or for any reason. We will never be enough, but God is enough in himself.
We depend on God, our Creator, for every aspect of our existence. Without him we would not have air to breathe, food to eat, or ground to stand on. He is not impressed by us. Our power is weakness to him. Our wisdom is total foolishness. Our virtue is filth. Even believers may desire to live righteous lives, yet fall back into sin so easily (Romans 7:15). We fall into self-reliant habits without realizing it, until, suddenly, we smack face-first into the walls of our limits and realize that we are not enough. God’s standard is perfection, and we simply can’t live up to it. I know for sure that I can’t. God has been reminding me of that over the last few months to strip me of my delusions of self-sufficiency.
Recently, I’ve been struggling with chronic pain caused by endometriosis and migraines. It’s made me feel weak and ineffective. It’s also made me acutely aware of how much I need to grow in the area of controlling my words and actions when I’m under stress. I’m don’t have the most gracious attitude toward my family when my body is hurting. Parenting a mischievous toddler is also teaching me a lot about my inability to protect him from harm the way I want to. My best efforts at babyproofing and keeping a close eye on him are no match for his desire to explore. The second I turn my back on him he’s investigating the outlet protectors or scaling the dining room table. I can’t always keep him safe, and he has the bumps and bruises to prove it.
I am not enough to truly meet my own needs, much less all the needs of my son, my husband, or other people I care about. Partly, it’s because I still struggle with sin. But, it’s also because I wasn’t created to be “enough” for myself or anyone else. And neither were you. You and I are limited because we were created for dependence on God, the only one who is truly self-sufficient. He provides for my lack, for our lack, with abundance. He relieves us of the burden of trying to meet needs only he can fulfill. He satisfies them all. We must lean into his perfect provision, which finds its culmination in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
In Jesus, God took on our human neediness to meet our greatest need. His perfect life and guiltless death paid the penalty that our sin demanded. We receive his blamelessness, the Holy Spirit, and the hope of new life. When we profess our faith in his death and resurrection, we are proclaiming his all-sufficiency for our salvation. As the Holy Spirit is at work in us, our sinful desires and delusions about our self-sufficiency are stripped away. We are emptied out to be filled with righteousness that only Jesus’ blood could provide.
Knowing that Jesus abundantly provides for our insufficiency, how do we respond? One way is by embracing our limitations.
Embracing Our Limitations
Our limitations are a blessing because they remind us of our need for God. Are you struggling with your own inadequacy? Thank God for the reminder to rely on him. Are you in a comfortable season where you’ve fallen into a pattern of self-reliance? Consider how God has already provided for you and thank him for it. Do you find yourself in a season where you’re trying to meet needs in others that only God can satisfy? Ask God to for wisdom to point them to him as their perfect provision.
“You are enough” is a bankrupt gospel. It does not have the power to save. It is not the message we need to hear to release us from our slavery to sin and give us new life. Only the actual Gospel can do that. Remember: you are not enough, but God is enough. Christ is enough. We can embrace our limitations because God is able to perfectly sustain us out of the abundance of his self-sufficiency.