Scarcity is a topic just making its way into the public conversation arena. It can be summed up as the belief there’s “not enough:" not enough time, not enough happiness to go around for everyone, not enough money, and the list continues. It can manifest as “I am not enough”—not pretty enough, good enough, nice enough, productive enough—a lie I faced head-on after an experience in a Cambodian hospital left me painfully aware of my inadequacies.
The scarcity mindset is rampant and often leaks unnoticed into all realms of our lives, including the spiritual. I’m sure scarcity manifests itself in different ways for different people, but here are three ways I’ve noticed the “not enough” mantra invading my spiritual life.
1) I’m afraid there’s not enough grace and mercy to cover my sins.
As someone who grew up in church, the gravity of sin was hammered into me from a young age. Add perfectionism to church legalism, and it’s easy to understand why it’s such a struggle to believe Jesus’ mercy is enough to cover me every time I sin. Time after time after time, I stumble and fall, and sometimes it just seems plain impossible that Christ has any mercy left. Questions such as “How can God forgive me even though I’ve fallen into this sin so many times?” and “How can God still love me after all I’ve done?” are birthed. Yet the Word clearly says His love endures forever, and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22). Viewing this lie as a scarcity issue has helped me understand where these fear-based doubts come from and freed me to rejoice in the abundance of the Lord’s mercy.
2) I start believing there’s not enough encouragement for all the times I feel down.
Every time I serve overseas, my mom has this wonderful tradition of collecting notes from my friends and family and sending them with me for days when I need a little extra encouragement. It’s a great resource—except for several years I convinced myself the number of moments of discouragement I'd have would exceed the number of notes to read. I stockpiled the letters for times when I “really needed” them. I tried to muscle through the hard days because I was so afraid a harder time would come and no encouragement would be left. At the end of several summer trips, I had a dozen unread notes to read on the plane home. They were still fun to open, but I found I’d robbed myself of the encouragement God had provided for the hard times.
These days I push past my fears and reach out to others when I'm having a rough day, either by sending a text or opening a note (though I try to be careful I’m seeking hope first from the Lord and not from other people’s words). It’s been a source of encouragement and strength, and on days I have no letters and no signal, the Lord continues to provide. The interactions I find most encouraging are, after all, the ones pointing me back to find strength in the Lord Himself.
3) I’m afraid God’s gifts are limited.
Even when I pray, I fall prey to the scarcity mindset. I’m hesitant to ask the Lord for hope, encouragement, or a boost in mood. I act as though there’s a quota for the gifts He gives each of His children, and we must be wise about when and why we ask for them. However, when I look at the life of Jesus in the Gospels, His generosity cannot be measured, and Paul refers to the riches of Christ as unfathomable (Ephesians 3:18). I must ask myself, “Am I robbing myself of asking for and enjoying His gifts because of a scarcity mindset?”
The root of it all, I suppose, is a belief that God is not enough. It’s a lie that creeps into my heart and makes subtle but significant changes in the way I view God and myself. When I start believing God is not enough, I search for “enough” in other places: in myself, in others’ approval, in “success,” or in knowledge. Yet Jesus is enough is a fundamental part of the Gospel. There is no scarcity in His Kingdom. I have to remind myself of this every day. He’s enough to hold my fears, my failures, my future, my down days. He's enough for my scarcity mindset and all it entails!