Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Is God enough for you?

Is God enough for you?

I can see that this is a question directed at me. It's personal. Is God enough for me? Is he? It is a "yes" and "no" answer for me. 

I know this sounds like a paradoxical non-answer (or an archetype evasion), but then, my response to difficult question is to suspend the urge to answer them or to answer them with open-ended caveats (or I cheekily call it an anti-answer). Due to the limitation of my knowledge and experiences, it is difficult for me to answer affirmatively and still maintain my honesty about my true feelings.

I always admire those who can answer “yes” to that question without any reservation whatsoever. Could the problem then lie with me? Could it be an issue of personal surrender or the lack of it? Could I have unconfessed sins that are hindering my walk with God?

Or maybe, if I may turn the table around, with respect of course, and ask, could it be that people who answers that question with an unreserved “yes” are merely influenced by confirmation bias (favoring evidence that supports their belief and dismissing those that do not)? Or maybe they have chosen to take the rule-of-thumb approach in answering it, that is, endorsing convenient conclusion or mirroring the views of others? Too presumptuous?

I know that some people out there may label me as a wet blanket. Why think so much? Why don’t just take the leap of faith? Why bother about matters that don’t concern me? I once expressed my doubts to a Christian of many years and he smiled at me with unfazed conviction, and said, “Why you bother about the sufferings in this world? It’s not your business. You just believe. God will take care of the rest.”

So, taking the road of least resistance, I may just as well answer it this way, "Ok, God is more than enough for me. That’s for sure. But for those times I am in doubt because I choose to apply my God-endowed mind to work, I nevertheless still accept that answer by faith, unquestioned, unreserved." How’s that? Too presumptuous?

For some, that would be a good enough answer, and they would be satisfied if I’d just left it at that and progress to more positive scriptural confessions. I mean, for some people, especially those riding on a postmillennial, apocalyptic soul train, the struggles of trials and doubts that follow are just the price one pay for keeping the faith. And since doubts are unquestionably unedifying, faith must always take precedence over doubts. Always.

Another reason I hesitate to answer that question is because I don't take it lightly. I am a Christian realist. And I am endeavoring to answer that question from a limited human perspective. So, expect my answer to be of probational value and subject to appropriate tweaking as I advance in my faith; sometimes even taking cautious, light steps when treading on uncharted thin-ice terrains of human sufferings and pain. 

FYI, I have been a Christian for 28 years at aged 15. In these 28 years, my answers to that question pendulums between yes and no. Maybe more "yes" than "no" over the years. Here’s why.

I recall CS Lewis once said that he who has God and everything has no more than he who has God alone. So, God is all a believer needs from CSL's perspective. What does this actually mean? 

I guess it means that God takes precedent over all worldly desires. He is everything. Nothing brings more joy and peace than to worship God. No amount of fame and fortune can rival that same deep sensation of pleasure. A person who endorses that conviction is basically a Christian hedonist, that is, "the greatest pleasure is to worship God, bar none."

But is this a consistent conviction throughout one's life, without exceptions? For me, it is difficult to answer "yes" and still be completely honest with myself. But it is just me I guess.  I sometimes feel that God is not enough. Now let me be bolder but no less honest. I sometimes even feel that God could have done better. Of course I share this with apology. An apology offered for my human-ness. 

When his wife (Joy) died of cancer, CSL cried out, "Is God a cosmic sadist or a spiteful imbecile?" I believe if one had asked him the same question then, "Is God enough for you?", the answer would most likely be withheld, at least during the time of mourning. Or maybe not. 

Is God enough for anyone in a trial that is seemingly relentless? Is God enough in the face of the death of a loved one despite earnest prayer? Is God enough when one's heart is pained by a betrayal like an adultery? The Rolodex of suffering goes on.

For CSL, the pain even drove him to write a book entitled "A Grief Observed" where he lamented, "What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayer Joy and I offered and all the false hopes we had...step by step we were led up the garden path. Time and time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture."

Seriously, the next torture? 

Of course CSL grew stronger after that but the point is that our faith will be tested and not knowing its outcome and being only human, it is not surprising that those in the eye of their own storm would feel abandoned, doubt-ridden and lost. And when such negative feelings overwhelm, it is only natural to turn one's face away from God. At such times, God seems aloof and distant. He seems inadequate and restraint. One is thus tempted to scour for doubt-driven alternatives to explain his absence.

So, is God's grace sufficient for me? Is His assurances more than a comfort for me in my trials? Can I trust in Him for strength and hope to brave through hard times? Is God enough for me? Tough questions - only if you take them seriously I guess.

I recall one wall graffiti that reads, "I believe in the sun even when it isn't shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when He is silent." I applaud the faith of the person who wrote that. He or she must have taken the leap of faith and landed on pillowed ground, which effectively absorbed the impact of the pain of worldly suffering, mostly senseless and gratuitous. As for me, I am still holding on to the guardrail, wary, sometimes, uncertain, earnestly searching for my pillowed ground below, which is occluded by the fog of doubt.

Before I end, allow me to sidetrack. I think I would like to answer the above question with a question and it is this, "Have I had enough of myself?" I believe the answer to this question will indirectly answer "Is God enough for me?" 

I think self-love stands in the way of our surrendering to God. So, if I am still not done with myself, still hoping to serve my own interest, feed my pride and look for self-glory, God will never be enough for me. Because as long as I do not empty my heart of self, there is no room for God to fill it.

Going back full circle, is God enough for me? Honestly, I am still work in progress, a Christian on his way and a pilgrim trying to follow the footsteps of his savior. At most times, God is. Sometimes, He is not. And during such time, I quietly confess my reservations and doubts and wait upon Him to renew my strength. Sometimes the wait can take longer than is necessary in my view. And faith takes a beating as doubt overwhelms.

In the end, I believe that some find their God in times of prosperity. Some find their God in a celebration. Some find Him in a moment of epiphany. Others find Him in their personal pain, in sorrow and along the corridor of death. But in all these rendezvous with the divine, the most enduring encounter is the God who reveals Himself in the furnace of our doubt. Cheerz.


  1. Thanks so much for your article. Your honest expression of your doubts, while still holding strong to the things that you do believe helped me to really reflect on my own personal beliefs and doubts. One of my friends, Michael, wrote an article about his observations on how doubt works within a community of believers at http://www.reallifeanswers.org/everyday-faith/do-believers-doubt-to-those-who-doubt-part-1/ I'd love to hear your take on how/if doubt can help to strengthen faith. Thanks so much and I look forward to your next post!

  2. Thanks Alex for taking the time. Your encouragement is refreshing. Will deal with doubt sooner or later. Will also read your friend's article too. Once again, thanks and take care. Cheerz.