When Jesus Isn’t Enough

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A question from J, after yesterday’s post.

‘What happens when that’s still not enough, when no matter how much you believe it should be and it is, Jesus, God, Christian faith, Christian hope hasn’t yet been the solution? It’s the text book answer, the right answer, but it isn’t answering it this time. It’s the answer I would give to anyone else, the solution I would offer and advise, but it’s not cutting the cake for me. When you’ve tried all else, when you’ve tried Christian approaches, non-Christian approaches, medical approaches, therapy, reaching the end of the rope-tieing a knot and hanging on, and none of them get you anywhere: it leaves you with little option’.

Dear J:

I don’t know how you’re feeling and I can’t pretend I do.  Things are not okay at the moment and they haven’t been for a while.  I’m sorry and I wish; I Wish I could make it better.

I know you’re desperate and I know you’re tired.   I hear you when you say that every second is painful. I know you don’t want to be here. But I thank God that you are. Every day and every night. I thank God  for the ways you have blessed me and for the person you are; like me – broken and messy, but valuable and dearly, dearly, dearly loved.

I don’t have any answers.  I don’t have any verses that will fix it.  I don’t understand why life is sometimes so hard and why we hurt so much for so long. I can’t speak for you: only for myself. Here’s what I know.

I’ve been in a place when life seems too much.  When everything is dark and the black’s in you too and you long for it to end and you long to rub yourself out.

I’ve been in a place where the experts gave up.  Where I gave up.  Where the threats and the pleas and the meds didn’t work. Where nothing anyone said or did made a difference.  Where I embraced my brokenness and hugged it to me and pushed the edges deeper and prayed that it would pass.

And it didn’t.

For a long time: weeks, months – it didn’t.

I exhausted myself screaming and crying and pleading and weeping. ‘Let me die’ I said. But they wouldn’t.

Other days I felt nothing. Not sad or bored or angry or anything.  Just empty.  ‘We’re crying out for you’ said friends. ‘We’re hoping for you when you don’t. We won’t let you go’.

I hated them for obligating me to exist. I smashed myself against the rocks of their prayers – but they stood firm. And one day, I broke; but in a different way from before.

I still felt rubbish. But there came a moment when I realised, I was breathing. And it felt ok.

There were days when the hurt was a tiny bit less. Days when I felt achy instead of empty. Angry, instead of just sad.  I saw something: that maybe, maybe wasn’t black. Gradually, that something started stretching.  It got so I could put my finger in it.  Then my elbow.  Then an arm and a leg. I got used to it – the grey bit – and I wore it, like a rug.  It was lighter  than the black and one day, when I looked closer; I saw there were bits of colour. Still grey: but underneath, a glimmer that reminded me of something I’d forgot.

I talked to a Christian friend who had severe depression and I asked him, ‘what helps?’ He paused and said ‘actually, nothing.  When you’re in that place, nothing helps’.

Nothing helps. Not reading the Bible, not walks, not even meds. It’s crap – it just is. And for a time you sit with it. But people pray for you.  They hope for you. And somehow, you come through. Because even though you’re in the pit, Jesus stays the same.

I thank God for the people who kept praying.  I didn’t believe in them or their prayers. But I didn’t need to.  Because the God they prayed to was real.  And He believes enough for all of us.

I love you and I’m praying too. x

10 thoughts on “When Jesus Isn’t Enough

  1. J,
    I too do not know what you are suffering and can only speak from my own experiences. I have been prone to depression my entire life. I have adopted addictions to sooth the pain of living in a fallen world. Recently I have dropped my long time addiction to porn and have found that my ability to cope with life is quite lacking. I have had some severe depressive bouts where I was consumed with my pain and had a deep desire to die to end the pain. The ironic thing is that was precisely what I needed to do. I needed to DIE to MYSELF and LIVE in Christ. My addictive behaviors may have looked like porn, but the truth is my addiction was narcissism. I WANT(ED) TO BE GOD. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to dodge the curse of the fall. I wanted to force entry back into Eden. But truly I don’t know what it means to be God.

    If it’s pain I wish to avoid, the misery of watching things not being what they ought or facing contempt from those whom I love, then I surely cannot handle being an omnipresent God who sees every single rape, murder, and act of unfaithfulness; and does not dull His pain with addiction or hole up in a bed of depression. I make an awful God.

    I am grateful I have a savior to carry this weight, even if I often don’t remember to give it over soon enough or completely.

  2. Sometimes, the way I see it, it is like waiting for the sun to come up, or walking through a dark fog. One foot in front of the next, day after day. Nothing changes. But perhaps a bit like Emma wrote, one day, the sun starts to rise. Sometimes just a glimmer, but its there. I can’t say what has changed or why, but somehow hope returns.

    I can also really relate to the feeling of ‘knowing’ the right answers, and knowing how you would answer another person and yet feeling nothing yourself. I have no answers. Just prayers, lots of them, to the God who knows all things, and the reasons for all things.

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