Is God Enough?

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • Traci

    Funny, we have the “hand” thing in common in our story, even in that mine was broken and I had surgery on it last year! I am constantly learning to turn my palms up and receive from God graciously (the Greek meaning of ‘meek’) rather than have them palms down and grasping. Write (right) on, brother:)

  • Joey O’Connor

    You are too funny Traci! In all of this messy stuff of life, we do have to keep a sense of humor, don’t we? Meek…I never knew that…thanks for sharing!

    • Joey O’Connor

      Okay Traci…I just checked out your website! Wonderful pictures of hands! I love it…I hope everyone else visits. Go to

  • Sissym Mascarenhas

    I doubted God, my faith was questioned because I went through difficult moments. I believed in justice, but it often does not exist in Brazil (even in the world). For a long 6 months my mind and my soul were empty, because I had no faith. As I have always loved God, I always saw him at all, I suffered so much. Then I started to look for him again, but needed help to heal the scars. I got this through the Johrei (knows?). I’m not currently following, but I have the utmost respect for this oriental cult.

    And then, I understood that I needed heavy trial to evolve. I became a person more confident and stronger. I started to feel a detachment from vanity. So I began to compare my pain with the pain of the world. My problem is much smaller and it comforts me. And so … as I have a great love for life, I am been looking for ways to help others. Gradually, I am doing it.

    Joey, yesterday began the Book Biennial in Rio de Janeiro. Happen until the 11th of September. Some international famous writers are here giving autograph.  I will go there and remember you fondly.


    • Joey O’Connor

      Hi Sissym,
      Thanks for your honest story and sharing some of your spiritual journey. I know that the more I learn about following Jesus, the lighter my problems become. His way of life offers me far more freedom, purpose and belonging than anything else I can imagine.

      I hope you find some good books at the Book Biennial. Have fun in Rio!

      God bless you…

  • Gregg N. Huestis

    Joey, very insightful article. Love your writing as always! Gregg

    • Joey O’Connor

      Thanks Gregg for your kind words. Writing is meant to be enjoyed. May God always be enough in your life!

  • Jacqueline Hernandez

    This resounds with me because I am starting a new chapter in my life, for years I was hanging onto depression bitterness anger and so many negative emotions couple with an addiction to self injury.  A recent trial made me finally see that I needed to let go of it all..especially the hurt and bitterness from what happened. I let go of everything, and instead gripped tighter to God than i ever have. From here on out I am never letting go.

    • Joey O’Connor

      Thanks for sharing your story Jacqueline. I once heard it said that when we forgive others, we are the ones who are freed. Freed from hurt. Bitterness. Anger. Keep gripping tight onto God…He is enough. Thanks again!

  • CZ

    Hey Joey,
    First time here! Thanks for the blog post, It happened to catch my eye on facebook which is kinda like driving on the I-5, On occasion I will pull off the side of the rode when I see an interesting visual or rest point. In this case, the hand intrigued me.
    There is no question, that I have shared many of the same questions, even still today.
    What I have learned to do right or wrong is similar to when I have ever gone over the falls on a big day out in the Ocean, I don’t panic, I have learned to not fight the washer machine effect and go with the flow. Relax, let go, eventually things will settle and in that moment you find your bottom and push up to reach the top again.  Yes, there have been moments to fight against it when I panic and that is natural to the flight or fight built into our DNA. I have gone over the falls many a times in life out of the water either by personal choices or random acts of unforeseen circumstances. God in his compassion and love has always been there on the tower to oversee and to reach out his hand through His people, My wife, my kids, my friends or family and even those I don’t even recognize. That is the mystery….His hand is always open.

    • Joey O’Connor

      Hey my friend…thanks for such a cool post! You gave such a good visual picture of fighting the streams and currents of our lives, when most times, in reality we just need to step back, breathe, relax and pray.

      God on the tower (such a good lifeguard picture!)…I think you should be a writer! Give my best to Kathy and your kids. Thanks for stopping by! God bless, Joey

  • Joyce Harback

    Timely. I posted last night the one line from “Rock of Ages”: 
    “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

    Thanks for the good reminder.

  • Joey O’Connor

    That’s a wonderful word picture Joyce…thanks for your contribution and ideas. Blessing to you!

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