The email from the blog reader grabbed my attention. She was caught up in an endless cycle of addiction. She was desperate for change. But she had one humble and haunting question holding her back: What if Jesus isn’t better?
My mind churned in clunky phases as I sat with her question. Of course Jesus was better, but it seemed she had heard that before; and hearing and knowing are two very different things.
I wondered what life was like in her shoes. What hurts and disappointments drove her. What senses had been dulled, expectations unmet, hungers temporarily and hastily filled, that her mind couldn’t grasp the better.
And then I realized we aren’t all that different, she and I. Perhaps my distractions are more socially acceptable, maybe the ways I self-soothe are not quite as obvious or outwardly destructive, but when I reach for fulfillment in anything other than the person of Jesus Christ, am I not asking the same question? Am I not believing that He really isn’t enough for my hurt, my loneliness, my fear or disappointment? When we boil it down, don’t I sometimes believe that He really isn’t better?
Proverbs 16:6 tells us, “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.”
The goodness of God, through His finished work on the cross, atones for our sin. But our reverence of Him—our fear of the Lord—turns us away from evil. Fearing Him: knowing and understanding His greatness, His unchanging nature, His power at work and on display both in creation and in us, is what empowers us to turn away from sin.
Way back in Genesis, we are told that sin is crouching at our door. It desires to have us, but we must rule over it. That ruling over sin is a choice. Daily. It’s a decision that He is better, His ways are better, and choosing the better will always begin with knowing and fearing Him.
Thankfully, He affords this knowing by the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us. He told us through Jeremiah that we will seek and find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:13). That is our choice, to surrender our full heart to Him. To hold nothing back in pride, but in humility know Him as greater. And in the knowing we will always find what is greater, what is better; because we find the One who loves to make Himself known to His people.
This is courage. A heart surrendered toward the One who empowers us to both know and fear Him.