In my book, The Longing, I tell the story how chronic tendonitis in my wrists and the resulting depression kicked my butt. That’s right friends… K-I-C-K-E-D-MY-B-U-T-T!
If you’ve gone through difficult, dark periods in your life, you know how pain forces you to ask a number of difficult questions. Throw in a heavy fog of depression, like you’ve got a two-hundred pound Anaconda wrapped around your head, and that makes answering those questions even tougher.
Deep struggles in my life have forced this one question, “Is God enough?”
It seems that every struggle has a story and every struggle asks a question…so when I found this cast iron statue of ‘The Hand’ (as my kids call it), it was such a visual reminder of my struggle with chronic pain and God’s faithfulness in getting me through that dark period, I just had to get it.
When you look at The Hand, what comes to mind? What does it say to you? Better yet, what is God saying to you? What if this hand was a closed fist? Or an angry fist shaking at God for all the pain, hardship, struggle, grief and loss you’ve gone through? And I’m not just talking about the pain that others have caused you. I’m also talking about the pain you and I have created in other people’s lives, which I’ve done my fair share of.
I don’t know your story, but I do know a lot of other people’s stories. Dear friends of mine who have had children die or go off the deep end. People and pastors who have been booted out of churches for, well, being sinners. Family and friends whose spouses have died or left them for someone else. Good people, who for one reason or another, have had their lives ravaged by all manner of addictions. Friends who have lost everything (and I mean everything) in the current economy. Men and women wrestling with depression, inner demons and mental illness. Close friends who wrestle with God with all their doubts, fears and questions, waiting for the break of dawn and an end to the Dark Night of the Soul.
The mire of suffering pushes me to the question, “Is God enough?” If I don’t ask myself this question, I’m toast. It’s one of the very few questions that rights my ship when I’m sinking.
Don’t get me wrong. Suffering alone doesn’t have to provoke this question. Things may be going great for you and your heart can still be hungering, longing for something more. Maybe you have everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Life is good! You are happily holding onto all sorts of good things, but it’s still not enough…
A wise old friend of mine once said, “If you cling too tightly to whatever you’re holding on to, God has to pry your fingers open to get you to let go of it.” In a funny way at times, The Hand gives me a gentle slap (or a whack!), “Hey, let go of that dang thing you’ve got in a death grip!” Yet, in other tender moments, The Hand reminds me of Christ reaching out to me with His free offer, “Come on, open your hand. Let me lead you…”
The only problem is I keep clutching, clutching, clutching! Tightly wrapping my fingers around to all the things I think I need or want or desire.
All that stuff we grasp for…money, sex, power, reputation, things, vacations to “Infinity and beyond!” or whatever your ‘-ism” is. All that stuff, when out of alignment with God’s good intentions for our lives, is absolute arsenic to our souls. We are made for freedom and this freedom is only found in walking with God with an open hand. Pray this prayer with me:
Lord, I confess that I’m not very good at living with an open hand. I’m far too grabby. You see exactly what I’m hanging on so tightly in my heart, yet you don’t hold that against me. Help me to intimately know that you are enough. May your good love, grace and mercy lead me today. My hand is open…
Questions: What questions arise during tough times in your life? Have they provoked you to ask what you’re hanging onto? How might you experience deeper intimacy with God by opening your hand to Him today?
I’d love your comments and feedback.