Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”~ Daniel 3:16-18
We all have our “if only’s.” If only I were married. If only I made more money. If only I looked like her or had success like him. If only ____________, then ____________. We could all fill in the blanks. We look to, and long for, our “if only” as a means of joy and fulfillment. In turn, we hang our very faith on it. Now it’s not bad to long for things. In fact, if we didn’t long to be healthy, to be loved, and to have joy, I would question our humanity. To long for these things is to be human. God placed these things in our nature. They are part of what it is to be a human being, but they were designed to make us dependent on a loving Creator.
Since the fall, man has been destined to go his own way; this includes his quest to fill his longings up with anything and everything but God. It takes only a casual observance to see that it’s never enough. Even in our own souls, we strive for whatever our “if only” is, driving only to find disenchantment from it. Fulfillment is never reached because the space we are trying to fill is an infinite chasm only meant to be filled by an infinite God.
“If only’s” point to a need. Just like pain is an indicator that something is wrong in our physical bodies, our “if only’s” point to a need as dependent creatures. The needs aren’t bad, but who or what are we going to first in order to meet those needs? I cannot think of one need or desire that isn’t met by God first.
I get that it is easier said than done. I have the same struggle and countless times wonder why I am still struggling with the same thing. One thing that I have learned, and am still learning, is that the more I spend time with the Lord, the more I know Him. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Finally, the more I love Him, the more I find fulfillment and contentment to just have Him. To gain more and more of this knowledge and to apply it to all of my current circumstances is truly priceless. When we are satisfied with Him and Him alone, we are truly in the best place we can be. We still have the yearnings and the needs, yes, but we are not waning away from the lack of them. We are kept by a Father who knows what we need. Does He not say in His word this very fact? Does He not follow it up to “seek His kingdom first and all else will be given?” It is even His pleasure to give good things, but it is only for our good that He wants to be first in our desires and affections. Simply put, we can trust Him and rest our longings and needs to His care. If it is a yes, then it is because of His goodness. If it is a no, it is still because of His goodness.
Once we seek Him and are able to rest in Him, then we are able to find joy and peace regardless of the circumstance. We can stand on who He is because our faith no longer rests on our circumstances but on His attributes. Because His attributes remain unchanging, our faith can remain unchanging. Our faith rises to that of a higher order, an ancient one. It is the kind that no longer hangs on the “if only,” but is outwardly expressed with the conviction of WHO God is with “Even if.”
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6: 31-33