The other day, a young child got frustrated. He could not get past this one issue he was struggling with and his exceptionalities compounded the problem. My instinct was to say “Trust Jesus and he’ll help you past your frustrations.” Yet a tension kept me from being so forthright.

Yes, I do believe Jesus changes and transforms lives. Yet I know he doesn’t do that so in such a mechanistic way. His desire is to transform lives yet his plan or method is so all-encompassing that it doesn’t necessarily go the way we think it should go.

There are times when we overpromise what the gospel is. We make claims of Jesus’s transformational promises but in such a way that it’s supposed to happen our way. So when Jesus “fails”, we tend to reject Jesus. How many people have been burned or betrayed by such promises?

Yet Jesus DOES transform lives, so we must also not underpromise what the gospel is. For Jesus did claim that he has brought life, life most abundant!

So where does this leave us? It’s a tension in demonstrating what the gospel is actually without overpromising or underpromising. It is simplistic and yet how all the variables interact together makes it complex. Perhap’s why the Proverbs are usually taught more frequently than Lamentations or Ecclesiastes because Proverbs is much more straightforward compared to the complexity of the other two wisdom books. So we must be cautious not to extrapolate promises that God didn’t intend to make in the first place. Otherwise we hinder someone’s faith progression especially young children or those who can’t think very abstractly.

So what did I tell my young friend? Essentially that Jesus is with him and wants to work through his frustration with him alongside me. I didn’t want to promise that Jesus would solve it lest he starts thinking that Jesus is his personal problem solver. But Jesus does want to provide his presence, part of which includes me also journeying with this child.