We all ask this question at different times in our lives:
Do I have what it takes to raise a family?
Am I good enough to do this job?
Can I face this challenge, or will the pressure crush me?
Self-doubt is a natural part of life — especially when we risk dancing on the wild edge of the unknown.
The question (Am I enough?) and the uncertainty (of the answer) generates enough pressure to squeeze any person, yet Christians add another layer of complexity.
A Christian's Critique
Of course, I'm not enough! That's why Jesus had to come in the first place.
I'm unworthy (Isaiah 6:4),
A worm before the God of the universe (Psalm 22:6; Isaiah 41:14),
And my righteousness is filthy rags before God's holiness (Isaiah 64:6).
It would take a whole other article to discern if worm theology is accurate (you have to reckon with the imago dei, God's disposition toward people, and our propensity toward self-hatred).
However, I want to point out that we miss the point when we react to the question.
In our reaction, we heap shame on ourselves, which keeps us from the question under the question.
The Question Under The Question
The question — Am I enough? — is a question of wholeness. It's also a question of competency. Can I perform? Am I up to the task?
It's a question most often asked by shame.
Shame isn't actually asking, "Am I enough?" but "Am I loved?"
Herein lies the problem with berating ourselves for asking if I am enough. Shame raises the question, and we shame ourselves for asking it.
This cycle of shame keeps us from addressing the under-the-surface question. More pressing, shame keeps us from receiving the answer.
A Question of Unworthiness
When God's people interact with Him or heavenly beings in the Bible, they cower in despair. Yet, again and again, God affirms His love and favor for them.
The pre-incarnate Jesus extends forgiveness to doomed, despairing Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-6; John 12:41). The lightning-faced, flaming-eyed man reassures fearful, powerless Daniel by saying, "O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you…" (Daniel 10:11). Jesus meets prostrate Peter's plea to "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" with a hearty "Do not be afraid…" (Luke 5:8, 10).
While the Bible encourages us to "Be wretched and mourn and weep," it also portrays a God who truly loves us—a Creator who is for us (Romans 7:24; Romans 8:31; Psalm 8:3-4; Isaiah 43:4; Zechariah 2:8).
Yes, God desires contrite hearts over sin, but He also wants us to personally know the depth of His love (Psalm 51:17; Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:4-19).
These two realities must occupy the same space in our souls. Yet, we don't allow a maturing awareness of our sinfulness and God's love to grow up together under the same roof because we don't believe the gospel. We still connect the degree of God's love for us to how well we perform for Him.
Jesus' Performance Matters
Next time you instinctually ask, "Am I Enough?" don't berate yourself. Instead, ask the real question, "Am I loved apart from what I do?"
Then remember that Jesus became a worm of a man on the cross so that you might become a beloved child of the Father (Psalm 22; 1 John 3:1-3).
Let's silence shame's condemning voice and open our ears to the voice of Jesus, who says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1).
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