Every now and then, I’m forced to confront the feeling I have of being useless to God.
This sensation crops up every now and then, and it’s always insidious, subtle. It comes when I find myself gawking at the Power Christians I know who seem somehow to be able to fulfill the entirety of 1 Corinthians 13 while working a job, volunteering at a homeless shelter, and handing out candy to kids. It comes when I read a turn of phrase or a passage about God or Christian life that I could never have come up with myself and think, “Man, I wish I had written that.” Maybe for you it comes when all the ways you try to reach out or make someone smile never garner a response. Maybe it comes when you’re struggling with Bible study or wondering where you fit in at a church where everyone seems to be gifted at something and your presence doesn’t make much difference one way or another.
At times like these, I used to go through the Beatitudes, which are sometimes spectacular at making me feel even worse about myself. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I would read – but no one around me was fighting and I hadn’t seen conflict in weeks. “Blessed are the merciful.” Am I merciful? Am I merciful all the time? Last week, when the car company promised me they’d fix my car in two days and it took six and I got mad and my tone was clipped on the phone, was I merciful? Am I merciful enough? I’ve never been persecuted; I’m not sure I qualify as meek. The more I read through the list, the more my heart sinks.
Useful to God? I’m not even sure I can fulfill one Beatitude appropriately.
But since then I have learned when these fits of uncertainty strike to turn to John 20:24-29. Most people know these as the Doubting Thomas verses, and I am always stunned by Christ’s compassion here. When Thomas sees the resurrected Lord and his first response is, “No way,” Jesus gently invites him to see for himself. He doesn’t chide Thomas or yell at him for a lack of faith; he simply offers up the proof Thomas needs. And then the chapter concludes with Christ’s words:
Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.
Let it sink into your heart. That is your beatitude. Let yourself dwell on the richness of the truth that, miles and miles and years and years removed from the bodily incarnation of Christ, we who believe without having witnessed these signs in person have had a special blessing spoken upon us. That’s enough. However useless we might feel in the moment – however little we think our presence might matter in God’s grand plan or how little it sometimes feels we accomplish in spite of all our struggles – your faith by itself is enough. It matters so much, in fact, that the resurrected Lord of the universe foresaw it and blessed it.
Simply by being, by believing, you offer a gift beyond price. Your faith brings the Lord of the Universe a smile.