If you had to guess the opposite of inadequacy, what would you say?Sufficiency?
While all technically true, the primary antonym for inadequacy is abundance.
Ironically, our feelings of inadequacy, an emotion we love to hide behind but barely understand, come from a true lacking within our spirits. However, what we are missing is most often not what we think we need.
When we feel like an unreliable daughter, a careless sister, or a foolish friend, it is not because we lack the capacity to be trusted, the kindness to supportive, or the ability to be wise. What we do not have an abundance of, what is missing from our sprits, is rich, plentiful, Marvelous Truth.
When Satan whispers lies of inadequacy, he delivers a partial reality. He finds areas where we have really failed to measure up. He finds actual weaknesses, genuine mistakes, and natural insecurities so that he can illuminate them in such a way that they cannot be ignored. What he so cleverly leaves out is that fact that we set our own expectations too high to reach; he fails to mention that the actions and judgments of others tend to be unfair and unreasonable. Most importantly, he leaves out the truth about the glorious nature of grace.
If taken in full context, the book of Isaiah is not altogether positive. Many chapters in the book focus on Israel’s sin and God’s anger and punishment against them. Passages that speak of compassion and grace in spite of hardship and struggle do not comfort against the kinds of struggles that come as a consequence of honorably serving the Lord in a fallen world; they are the kind of difficulties that come from living in sin.
One of the most famous passages in the book is Isaiah 40:29-31: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” It is preceded, however, by Isaiah’s prediction that the nation of Israel will be carried off into captivity in Babylon as punishment for their sins.
Certainly, these Israelites felt inadequate. They had a notorious national history of sinning. They had a current problem of sin. And to top it all off, the Prophet of God assured them that future generations would just keep on sinning.
Yet despite it all, here was Grace, the Creator of all the earth, promising to raise up his wayward children, weak in sin and faint from futile efforts to redeem themselves, to soar like eagles.
This is what inadequacy should point us to: grace. Not shame, discouragement, or self-pity. When we are overwhelmed by the reality of our shortcomings and feeling empty of worth and value we must realize that what we are missing, what is not abundantly flowing through our souls, is the realization that God loves us despite our sin.
In some cases, our feelings of inadequacy come from the sin of others and we must first respond in forgiveness. Other times, we are like Israel and our inadequacy comes from our own sin and our first response must be repentance. Either way, the objective is grace, and the giver of grace is Christ. Inadequacy, when properly understood points us to the open, loving arms of God because as Romans 5:20b-21 promises, “where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.” We are never, ever too inadequate to come before the Throne of Grace and fall into the arms of the One who is more than enough when lack in abundance.