Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Isn't God Enough?

My recent post on depression generated such a response that I felt it necessary to follow up by addressing a problematic question that has plagued the church on this issue. Many of you commented that the topic of depression is taboo in the church, and that, as a whole, the church has often approached depressed people by telling us that God should be enough.

While I understand the (hopefully) genuine ignorance behind the question, I'd like to challenge the church to consider that asking a depressed person why God isn't enough is like saying -
  • to the single woman who desires to be married - "You don't need a husband to be fulfilled. Be thankful that you are married to Jesus. Isn't he enough?"
  • to the couple struggling with infertility - "You can be happy without kids. God has a good plan for you. Isn't he enough?"
  • to the unemployed person - "God will provide all your needs. Trust him more. Isn't he enough?"
  • to the woman whose husband ignores her heart - "Jesus is your perfect bridegroom. Be satisfied in him. Isn't he enough?"
You can see where I'm going with this. We could justifiably ask this question to any person struggling in any situation.

Because the answer to all these questions is YES. 
Yes, Jesus fills up my soul in a way that my husband, children, job, or any other thing in this world cannot satisfy.
Yes, Jesus is enough to bring me from death into true life.
Yes, Jesus is the only one I can look to to give rest to my soul.

So, yes, Jesus is enough. AND...
We can't find him alone. 

Remember the Garden of Eden? The perfect place on earth? God created Adam there. ONE person, who walked with God face to face, with nothing hindering their relationship. In fact, God was all that Adam had for companionship.

Yet, God decided that it was not good for the man to be alone.

Wait - how is Adam alone? ISN'T GOD ENOUGH for the man?

You see, God didn't create Eve so that God could have another person to hang out with. He created the woman for the man (and the man for the woman) so that they could be like each other in their humanness and work together toward common goals. Even though Adam had unlimited access to God, he still had a need for a human connection.

Now, I am no psychologist and I don't know the biological factors that play into depression. But I have a theory. First of all, I am absolutely certain that if life had continued on as God had intended in the Garden, then there would be no depression (as well as no infertility, unemployment, or jerky spouses). So we must acknowledge that our circumstances are affected by brokenness and sin.

Which leads me to also suspect that:
  • if I never felt spiritually alone - never felt distant from God
  • if I never felt emotionally alone - never felt misunderstood or disconnected from the people around me
  • if I never felt physically alone - never walked through a trial or had a hard day by myself 
Then I might not also experience depression. Because in the Garden, we walked with God. In the Garden, we were "naked and unashamed". In the Garden, we had perfect companionship. And since we are no longer able to enjoy any of those blessings perfectly, all the time, we suffer. Some of us suffer from depression. And while Jesus is enough to reconcile us to God so that we no longer have to suffer that separation (although, in our sin, we still do), he also intends to reconcile the church to one another so that we do not suffer from emotional and physical aloneness.

I'm still learning what true, Christlike community looks like. And I have hope that if the church can learn to rest in our identity as the family of God and move towards one another in consistent, persistent, unashamed togetherness, then perhaps, someday, we will no longer need anti-depressants. As we press on toward the call of God in Christ, as we preach the gospel to each other, and as we confess our sins to one another, I have hope that we will experience the fact that JESUS IN US is enough.

So the next time that you learn about someone in your life with depression, instead of asking her why God isn't enough, ask God how YOU can help be God-in-flesh. 

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