THE TAKE AWAY
Our Deepest Wish
By Kersley Fitzgerald
There's a Seattle Times article making the rounds about a couple who went to an advisor because of their financial challenges. It's not cheap to live in Seattle — or even where they live in the nearby bedroom community of Issaquah (Dev and I checked). Their 1973 home had $50,000 in surprise repairs and their childcare bill is $48,400 a year. It didn't help that when they had their second child, she hadn't worked at her job long enough to get maternity leave and lost four months of income, or that he had been unemployed for several months.
But now they earn $192,000 before taxes, they have $378,000 in equity on their house, $400,000 in investments, and $146,000 in their savings and checking accounts.
I'd never heard of the term "hate read" before, but I understood it perfectly when it was used to label this article. I mean, cheese and crackers. I don't even know how many people we get writing in asking for prayer just to find a job.
Quite a few of those questions, especially those coming from Christians, have the tenor of "why them and not me?" Why does God seem to bless unbelievers more than believers? Why are so many believers struggling to make ends meet and so many unbelievers so rich? Of course, this isn't universal, but when you're the one struggling, your situation is often all you can see.
And there's some precedence in the Bible. Ishmael and Esau were richly blessed by God. While the Hebrew patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) did all right, they never saw the riches and power that God had promised their descendants. Hebrews 11 describes how they had to live in faith of that promise: "These all died in faith without receiving the promises, but seeing them from a distance and welcoming them, and admitting that they were strangers and temporary residents on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).
I think I mentioned before the Genesis class I took through Dallas Seminary. The professor pointed out that earthly blessings are always quicker to come than spiritual blessings. That may not seem fair when your unbelieving neighbor is putting in a new kitchen and you're making due with your 30-year old builder's special. But, if you think about it, earthly blessings are all the unbeliever is going to get (Matthew 5:11-12).
My friend Alan Cross is going through Tim Keller's book Jesus the King. He (my friend, not Tim Keller) summarizes chapter three this way:
Jesus does not grant our deepest desires until He brings all of our lesser desires to frustration, removes them from us, and then reveals to us that HE is our deepest desire — then He gives us Himself, the One we have been looking for all along.The book mentions a 1990 article by Cynthia Heimel from The Village Voice about celebrities. About how all they had wanted was fame and power and status, and they suffered and worked really hard and got their break and finally made it. And when they made it, they realized that success didn't change them — except maybe for the worse. They weren't fulfilled. Instead, they were disappointed and hollow with a lot more money and attention. Which made them meaner.
Christians are often the same, but we bring with us the understanding that fame or fortune or whatever it is we really want is also a function of God's choice and even justice. If she (awful person that she is) gets that job, then surely God will bless me even more. And when He doesn't we feel cheated.
Or maybe He does bless us. We just don't understand what it is that we really want. As Tim Keller says:
Many of us first start going to God, going to church, because we have problems, and we're asking God to give us a little boost over the hump so that we can get back to saving ourselves, back to pursuing our deepest wish. The problem is that we're looking to something besides Jesus as savior. Almost always when we first go to Jesus saying, "This is my deepest wish," his response is that we need to go a lot deeper than that....The patriarchs understood that. The Hebrews 11 passage continues:
You see, it wasn't our deepest wish itself that was the problem, just as it wasn't wrong for the paralytic to want to walk or the celebrity to want to succeed...The fact that we thought getting our deepest wish would heal us, would save us—that was the problem. We had to let Jesus be our Savior.
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:14-16For kicks and giggles, I looked up some things on that couple in the Seattle Times. He lives 17 miles from his office in downtown Seattle. I live 3 from my office. Our house is worth half as much as theirs, but it's probably the same size. We don't have near the savings they do, but we never had to put JT in daycare. And as much as I miss the PacNW, Colorado's not a terrible place to be.
To misquote Batman: The Dark Knight, we're fortunate that God gives us the blessings we need, not the blessings we deserve.
Image Credit: Unsplash; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life
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