Regarding Scripture: II Corinthians 4.13-5.4
Life provides so many desires. Some desire the fantastic flavor of food, the comforts of silver and gold, the euphorious high of fleshly desires of sensuality, or emotional and mental stimulants. Some may desire the power of command and influence, while others desire knowledge and wisdom to cultivate and motivate the minds of the masses. But what about the desires of being the star athlete, the best salesman, receiving a pay raise or promotion, or being the most recognized person in the community?
By desire, I mean whatever you want (whether it be previously listed or not), it is your ultimate craving and goal. Some desire so strongly want they willing sacrifice time, money, property, family, friends, health, honor, duty, belonging, and love in order to achieve. What is your goal? If your goal is achieving material gain or prosperity in this life, whether it be gold and silver, job title, prestige of position, or fulfillment of fantasy, here are two sobering questions: If you achieve your goal, what will it give you? Will your achievement provide long-term satisfaction or only a moment’s pleasure?
The truth of life is that the attainment of any material pursuit (in order to satisfy the ego, or the carnal pleasures, or the financial pocketbook) cannot provide true long-lasting enjoyment. If you think this writer is amiss, consider the last item you purchased. You had to have it. You sought it. You bought it. You devoured it. You used it up. Did it satisfy? Or did you want more? While a leading candy maker has the slogan, “It really satisfies.” Can their product, or your last purchase, really satisfy? Does either have the ability to gratify your emotional, intellectual, physical, or dare I say, moral cravings? The brutal truth is that they, like everything material, leave you wanting more – craving more.
The only thing they really give us is the false expectation that more of the same will truly satiate. And, like a junkie, we return time and again, increasing the dose – hoping that it will finally provide something – until it is too late. Instead of receiving satisfaction, our physical desires take everything from us. They take our emotions and leave us dry. They take our morals and leave us hateful. They take our sanity and leave us crazy. They take our bodies and lay them waste. Since the pursuit of meaning in the physical returns only emptiness, where does one turn? The answer: spirituality. But is all spirituality the same? The answer: no.
For the soul who is struggling with emptiness, the writings of Paul found in II Corinthians provide much comfort and meaning. He states that humanity has grief because we sigh, we cry, we whimper – we groan for life to be more than the struggle of vanishing worthlessness.1 He encourages us all to look past the material, the temporal, the things that will not fulfill, and look to the eternal.2 Paul believes with all his being, and wants us to believe with all our being that there is more to physical life,3 that our struggle has meaning, and that death is not the end, but that true life follows death. Why? Because there is one who has conquered the narcissistic physical life, that one – Jesus.4
Jesus experienced personal betrayal,5 loneliness,6 and saddness,7 temptations8 which makes Him like us.9 Because Jesus willingly walked a lifetime in our shoes, He has the boldness to declare to us that we should be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.10 He overcame the betrayal, the loneliness, the sadness, and the temptations, the seeming emptiness of life to prove that there is purpose to living, because no matter how archaeologists and historians try to find the tomb of Jesus, His body cannot be found. As Paul believed, and this writer believes and hopes that you believe, Jesus is the Christ raised from the dead, and we will be raised from the grave to eternal purpose.11 Knowing this, while living comes with affliction, we are given hope not to grow weary, but to be renewed every day to face the struggle, because something powerful and glorious awaits.12
1 II Corinthians 5.2
2 II Corinthians 4.18
3 II Corinthians 5.1
4 II Corinthians 4.14
5 Matthew 26.48
6 Matthew 26.56
7 John 11.35-36
8 Luke 4.1-13
9 Hebrews 4.15
10 John 16.33
11 II Corinthians 4.14
12 II Corinthians 4.16-18