“Jesus is all I need. He can fill all the voids in my life. If I still have a painful emptiness inside then my faith must be lacking. If I had a strong faith and connection with the Lord I would not have this ache.”
In the space of one week, two people, in two different ministry sessions, said these exact words to me. The content of the sentences sound right, spiritual, even biblical. However, in the context of the discussions my spirit was unsettled (one person speaking of a family member who had died, the other about a spouse who has chosen to be distant, both emotionally and geographically). My journey of the last two decades of pastoral counseling tells me that many folks with vibrant and intimate relationships with God experience a specific painful emptiness; that there may not be a direct correlation between faith and a particular void in the soul; and that many people live with a sense of guilt and despair at the presence of pain due to loss in their lives. Thankfully, in times such as these, we can defer to Jesus and His Word – and what was revealed surprised both of these individuals.
Is Jesus all I need? Yes – because He is the sole source of life and salvation, light and truth, strength and grace. He is all I need to restore my relationship with the Father, make my dead spirit alive, discover the truth about who I am and Who God is. Jesus is all I need to reveal purpose in my life, to teach me how to live in a sinful world, to experience forgiveness and acceptance on a daily basis. Oh, the blessing of a full and vibrant relationship with Him!
Is Jesus all I need? No – by His own design and declaration: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18) Man was created to know the Lord directly AND through significant relationships with people. The Apostle John goes as far as to say that if we do not have good, loving relationships with people, we do not know God either (1 John 4:20). There is an element of knowing God and living life on earth that demands close, meaningful connections with other humans. Even emotional and spiritual healing rarely occurs outside the realm of the human community (James 5:16), again by God’s design.
So what happens when one of those significant individuals goes away, either by death or choice? Well, there is a painful void because one of those people that the Lord has given to us to help resolve the issue of “it is not good for man to be alone” is gone. Does Jesus flood right in and fill that void, like a pothole in the road fills with rain? We prayed and asked the Lord that specific question; and the answer, at least for these two people, was no. Jesus revealed to them that the void itself was a legitimate result of the real loss of “a suitable helper”. However, His presence and truth could keep the “hole” from getting larger while His comfort and strength could minimize the pain and help them live with contentment and joy, even with the void. At this, one of the people breathed a big sigh of relief and thanked the Lord for letting her know He was right there with her and that she wasn’t crazy or lacking faith.
Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love the Lord with every aspect of my being; and to love other people as I love myself. (Matthew 22:37-40) Perhaps one of the things He was trying to let us know is how loving God and loving man are extraordinarily intertwined.