Will Jesus Always Be Enough For Me?

“In the world you will have trouble . . .” – John 16:33.

Jesus was on his predictive A-game with this one, wasn’t he? Every person reading this article has had trouble in their life, does have trouble in their life, and will have trouble in their life. Though the intensity of it varies from season to season, difficulty, unfortunately, is an inescapable aspect of living in a cursed world. Surely there are glimpses of goodness to be seen and joyful experiences to be had. God’s common grace ensures that life is not a long sequence of uninterrupted drudgery. But you would have to be delusional (and many are suffering from sin’s delusional effects) to believe that existence in this world is an overall pleasant experience.

Perhaps those of us who love Jesus feel the pangs of our broken world most acutely. We are the firstfruits of God’s new creation (James 1:18), which means the Holy Spirit has introduced to our souls a foretaste of the perfect, heavenly world that is to come. As we experience in small measure the pleasure that a world rid of sin and filled with God’s presence will bring, we groan with eager longing (Romans 8:23) for the day when Jesus breaks through the clouds and spills his curse-destroying, trouble-expelling glory over all the earth. But we don’t know when he will arrive. It could be tomorrow afternoon or it might be 100, 1200, or even 10,000 years from now. So, we wait. We endure the trouble. We entrust ourselves to Jesus, believing that his grace is sufficient to sustain us and that our hearts will find his comfort and love to be enough.

Right?

To be honest, there are times I don’t feel secure enough in Christ to say those things with confidence. I worry that there will come a time or a trial when he won’t sustain me or when my heart fails to find comfort in all that he is. When I envision the possibility of suffering persecution for his sake, I have no doubt that he will empower me and that my heart will find him overwhelmingly sufficient. But when I envision myself walking through hardships not related to the gospel or even through consequences of my own sinful or stupid decisions, I wonder if Jesus will remain committed to me. I wonder if despair will eclipse my love for him and my joy in him, leaving me unable to sincerely say, “Christ is enough.”

Will he really sustain me? Will he really be enough for me?

He will absolutely sustain me. Nothing can snatch me out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29) or separate me from his love (Romans 8:38-39). The whole of the New Testament teaches that those who are in Christ are forever in Christ. Jesus is faithful to sustain his beloved brothers (Hebrews 2:11) in any and every trial they face, whether that trial be brought about by their faithfulness to the gospel or by their faithlessness in making sinful, reckless choices. Will he allow us to share in his sufferings? Yes. Will he sometimes allow us to walk in the consequences of our bad decisions in order to discipline us? Yes. Will he ever forsake us or let our faith utterly fail? Not a chance in Heaven. If we trust in Christ, we can know with concrete certainty that he is unashamedly and eternally committed to us. He will not let us fall away.

But while Jesus sustains my faith through hard times, will I truly have joy in him and be at peace in him? I think that depends.

Jesus is objectively enough. Being the fullness of God embodied, he is the most valuable and satisfying entity in existence. “In your presence there is fullness of joy . . . at your right hand are pleasures forever more!”- Psalm 16:11. And every kind of strength—including strength to love and enjoy God while enduring painful circumstances and emotions—finds its home in him. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26. Jesus, again, is objectively enough.

But will Jesus always be enough for me? In times of trial and trouble, will my heart be in a strong enough state that I will experience authentic joy and peace in him? I suspect that, at the very least, I will be able to intellectually assent to the objective truth that simply knowing Christ is sufficient cause for unsurpassable joy and peace. However, I think the degree to which I will actually feel his joy and peace is largely dependent on the extent to which I have trained my heart to abide in him.

Let’s say that, hypothetically (or maybe not-so-hypothetically!), I were currently going through the motions in my relationship with Jesus. Let’s say that I served in the church, read my bible every morning, and wrote about Jesus on my blog, but outside of those things, the affections of my heart were generally set on the things of this world. For example, let’s say—uhumm, hypothetically—that when I had the opportunity to either get in some extra time with the Lord or veg out on Netflix, I often chose the latter route. If my “abiding” in Christ continued at this bare minimum level and my affections generally remained geared in the world’s direction, I would likely find it difficult to feel Jesus is enough when undesirable circumstances came knocking at my door. Could I begin training my heart to abide in Christ in the midst of those undesirable circumstances? Sure. It would be difficult but definitely doable.

However, there is a better option.

Let’s say that, starting today, I began to repent of my “hypothetical” misplacement of affections. Let’s say that I resolved to continually position myself before the Holy Spirit so that my intellectual belief in Christ’s sufficiency could evolve into a felt-reality in my life. Let’s say that, henceforth, I were to diligently seek to find my highest gladness and deepest peace in Jesus—more often choosing prayer over Netflix, etc. If I were to train to my mind to be ever-looking to Jesus, and if I were to train my heart to be ever-abiding in Jesus, I would be so built up in all his fullness that that no trial or trouble would be able to throw me into utter despair. The trouble would hurt. The trials would be unpleasant. But they wouldn’t be able to lay a finger on the God-centered joy and peace that have been infused into my heart by means of my active friendship with Christ.

Jesus made some staggering promises in John chapters 14-17.

  • He promised his joy would be in us.
  • He promised that he would manifest himself to us.
  • He promised that he and the Father would make their home with us.
  • He promised to give us his peace so that the trouble we experience in this world wouldn’t trouble our hearts.
We experience these particular promises of Jesus in their fullest measure when we are actively abiding in him. His entire discourse over these four chapters had one major theme: “abide in me.” Every promise has a “to him who loves me” or “he who keeps my commandments” or “if you do what I command you” attached to it. If we will truly abide in him, he will always be more than enough for us.
  • Lyle Nelson

    Matt, this certainly lends a sense of urgency to our need to “abide in Jesus”. We know with confidence that Jesus is better than any other option, by an enormous margin, IF we do what is needed to maintain that connection. And we cannot even do that without His help. We dare not allow one inch of space for the devil, the world or our flesh to get an opportunity to gain a foothold in our hearts that could cause us to fall away. There’s much too much at stake!

  • Sometimes our unpleasant experiences are a preperation for something else that happens in life, but we are too myopic to see it. On September 24, 1984, my best friend committed suicide. I was devestated and went into a seven year depression (all of this coinciding with discovering that I was SSA). I didn’t come out of my friends tragic death till I found the Lord. But part of me is still traumatized by it today.
    But I didn’t know then that I was being prepared for a day when a friend of my daughter’s tried to take her own life. I was able to give her the counseling I didn’t get, and we were able to pray over her. The girl lived. Then a few months ago I said hello in passing to one of the youths at our church, and asked him how he was. He then told me that his best friend had committed suicide. Using my experiences I was able to counsel him and give him hope. I still talk with him each time I see him.
    I also talk with another youth who revealed to the church he was SSA. I related to him my experiences and still counsel him, so that he may be able to avoid the pitfalls that I fell into (and believe me, I wish that someone would have talked to me and encouraged me so that I wouldn’t have made so many stupid mistakes).
    God has a purpose for our troubles, that we aren’t qualified to understand. We are to learn from them and thank God for them (as uncomfortable as they may be) for we never know who we might be able to help because of them. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0edd073201b8246a3ca4449134cb7c1c2eaac7f6d90323f21796c6ed548ccc85.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d584d293a054c5f26b791358dfbbd8da1c29e0cc10707a0db7cc29d4654519e.jpg

  • mike

    “He promised his joy would be in us.
    He promised that he would manifest himself to us.
    He promised that he and the Father would make their home with us.
    He promised to give us his peace so that the trouble we experience in this world wouldn’t trouble our hearts.”

    These are true Matt, but not necessarily promises for every moment of our lives. And, I think, we shouldn’t feel guilty blaming ourselves for the desert. Some moments will be spent without joy, without sensing/feeling his manifest presence, not experiencing the homey warmth of Jesus and the Father, and not always having peace in the midst of trouble. During such moments we suffer depression even wanting to die.
    Why such moments or even seasons? Reasons we don’t always know. At least i don’t.
    Paul, I think had such moments when he wrote: ” We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”
    And a more recent puzzling story is that of Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her depression. She wrote: “Darkness is such that I really do not see—neither with my mind nor with
    my reason—the place of God in my soul is blank—There is no God in
    me—when the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God. …
    The torture and pain I can’t explain”
    I hope I am spared that dark night of the soul. In the end though we might commit suicide and not survive this despair on this side yet on the other Jesus will be faithful and welcome us home where all those promises will be true forever.

  • Bryan Matthews

    Every true, Matt. I would like to add a few things that you mentioned and expound on them a bit. You say that sometimes you don’t feel as secure in Christ as you do at other times; those are the times when we are to walk in faith. Faith-time is one of the toughest periods that a true Christian ever goes through, and the biggest reason I think is because we feel totally alone! If you have had faith-time then you also know that Old Smutty starts to whisper things like, “You know why you don’t feel God.”, “What did you do that displeased the Lord?”, “Bryan, I declare! You are just a failure! God’s gonna get tired of forgiving you over and over again.” , “The Bible says that there will be people who stand before Jesus on Judgement Day and tell Him that they have healed the sick, and cast out devils, and raised the dead. Then Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, Ye that work iniquity, I never knew you. They did all that and still went to hell! When was the last time you healed any sick or cast out any devils, and you show ain’t raised no dead.”
    I have a choice here: I can keep listening and it won’t be long before satan will have me so far out on a limb that the only way down is to jump! Yep, it will hurt! I rather say, ” The Lord promised that He would never leave me and I haven’t done anything wrong that I know about, besides I trust Christ will let me know if I need to get something straight. See I KNOW He loves me so much that He went to the cross for me, so surely He loves me enough to keep things clear between us.”
    It will do us all a service if we will remember that somethings and sometimes we are in certain situations (not always comfortable or familiar) however God knows exactly where we are and we are not going to understand why things happen like they do, but if we wait ( God moves in His own Time not on our schedule) and keep loving Christ, we will come back into the presence of the Precious Holy Ghost! Most of the time when we go through those things, if you will look back on it when God brings you out, you will see what He needed to accomplish in you.