It's not enough
“What do you need, Pastor?”
Which is why I’m writing this lead article for our church’s monthly newsletter. I couldn’t give Pastor Dan more time, but I could share a little bit of his burden and take a small weight off his shoulders.
So, what do you need? More time? More money? More support? More sleep? More pain relief? More willpower? I don’t know what it is, but I know there’s not enough. There’s never enough. I always need more!
And, it seems, that God isn’t doing much to meet my needs. He hasn’t brought my ship in yet, nor has he healed my broken relationships. He hasn’t guaranteed my life will be free from war, hunger, or disease, and he certainly doesn’t magically give me more willpower to resist sin. So, what gives?
Here’s a story I think can help. Immediately after his baptism, The Holy Spirit sent Jesus on a 40 day fast—the pattern for our lenten season—and Matthew tells us, “After Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” Which is a massive understatement! I cannot even imagine fasting from food for 40 days! (And for the curious, yes, it’s possible to do, though not advised without some serious know-how. I looked it up.)
But see what happened next: “Then the tempter approached him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” Are you kidding me!? Jesus is hungry, literally starving, and that’s when Satan is allowed to say, “Hey, God has abandoned you. You should just take matters into your own hands. Get what you need!”?
And how does Jesus respond? As only he—the perfector of faith—could: “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus, in the greatest of need, responds by trusting his Father’s promises.
Oh, my friends! What is it you need? What hunger pains claw the insides of your soul? Jesus knows the feeling. He knows how hard it is to wait, to trust, to fast. There’s never enough in this broken world.
But we have God’s promise. We have his Word. He tells us, “Soon! Soon there will always be enough!” Hunger is temporary. Pain is temporary. Broken and lost relationships are temporary. Lent is temporary. The Easter Feast in the resurrection is forever!
But is even that enough?! Can I follow Jesus' example and say “no” to the temptation to grab and grasp whatever I need? No, the truth is, most of the time I don’t have enough faith.
But here’s the not-so-secret secret: The story of Jesus' successful encounter with Satan is not so much a model for us to emulate, as the good news that Jesus has taken the burden off our shoulders. He succeeded where everyone else failed. He was able to live off of God’s promise and to drink the cup suffering down to the dregs without sinning. He earned the right to eternal life, and now he gives us that right.
And that’s enough for us. God doesn’t promise to meet our every need in this present broken world. But he always meets our one core need. Our need to be loved by God. We have not been forgotten. We have not been abandoned. We will rise with him in victory and feast with him forever—he has promised!
Of course, for now, we must wait. Perhaps you have to wait while also being tired and hungry and poor and sad. And if so, I’m sorry, that’s really really hard! But remember, God your Father has compassion on you, and has promised you a new birth into living hope through Jesus' resurrection. You have been adopted as his son or daughter. You have been given an imperishable, undefilable, unfading inheritance! Jesus himself keeps it and guards it for you. Soon you will rise and feast for all eternity with God because God said so! (1 Peter 1:3-7). Take a moment today and rejoice in that!