What is the difference between my way and God’s way of meeting needs and fulfilling desires? Why is God’s way the best for us?
My way in the story of Naaman
In the story of the Syrian Naaman in 2 Kings, chapter 5, we can clearly see the difference between my way and God’s way. Naaman, a great and honored commander of the army has leprosy. He desires and needs healing. That’s why Naaman goes to the prophet Elisha in Samaria. However, the prophet does not come to meet and greet him. Instead, he just sends his instructions. According to them, Naaman shall go and wash himself seven times in the Jordan River.
What do you think is Naaman’s reaction? Would he gratefully accept this way to healing and run to the Jordan river? Unfortunately not. He is deeply angry and disappointed. Here are his words: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:11)
This response shows us that Naaman has had fixed expectations about how he would be healed. Therefore, when reality did not meet his expectations, he reacted with anger and disappointment. What’s more, he was even ready to give up on his healing and go home.
My way – desires, needs, rights
Naaman’s reaction is a typical expression of a way of thinking and living that we can call “my way”. My way is an expression and continuation of the ego, the aspiration to get my will done. Its foundations and roots are in pride. My way is a means of self-realization, self-sufficiency and self-provision. It starts from self and ends with self.
My way is driven by our expectations, desires, needs and rights. Here is what the Bible says about this: “You desire but do not have… You do not have because you do not ask God.When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3)
It is important to understand that the majority of our expectations, desires and so called rights are not needs. God did not promise us the fulfillment of desires, nor did He guarantee our rights, that is, what we think we deserve. God promises that in Christ He satisfies the true needs and longings of the heart. These are the needs of unconditional love, acceptance, safety, security, value and significance, life, peace, joy, meaning and purpose. When we look for other ways to satisfy these primary needs, including by fulfilling certain desires, we enter the “my way” mode. However, our true happiness and satisfaction do not depend on the fulfillment of what we want, or we think we deserve.
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Why God does not guarantee the fulfillment of our desires
There are several main reasons for this:
- Many of our desires stem from the lust of the flesh, the desire of the eyes and the vanity (pride) of life. The purpose of these desires is to have one’s own pleasure, glory and satisfaction.
- To humble us and help us see the reality about ourselves. The truth is that we are limited beings who have no control over the world, nor can we guarantee the fulfillment of our wishes. Recognizing this truth is, on the one hand, a key to healing anger and disappointment directed at oneself and on the other hand, it helps us release the control.
- To help us turn our attention to God as the true controller and sovereign ruler of everything and His unlimited abilities. To direct us to God’s way of living our lives through faith and trust in Him.
- Because God knows that the fulfillment of our desires will bring us only temporary satisfaction and can even separate us from Him as the true source of lasting contentment and satisfaction.
- The fifth reason is the state of the world we are currently living in. It does not correspond to the original godly design. But one day that will change. God guides human history to the new heavens and the new earth.
God’s way is the best for us
not only for the moment
but also for eternity.
Does that mean that God does not fulfill our desires at all? Not at all. He does, but as God He claims for Himself the right to judge what, how, when, and in what form. He alone can do it best because he has unlimited knowledge, wisdom and strength. And above all, unlimited, everlasting and unchangeable love for us.
God’s way is always to do what is best for us not only temporarily but also for eternity. God’s way is not limited simply to the satisfaction of desires, it always contains a blessing with an eternal component. This way he changes us, humbles us, brings us peace, orientates us towards Him, and makes us His worshippers. In short, God’s way kills our self-centeredness and glorifies Him.
God’s way – the choice of Naaman
However, Naaman’s servants managed to persuade him to carry out the prophet’s instructions, despite thier simplicity and the lack of instant miracle and fanfare. Naaman’s flesh was restored and he became clean. But not only his body had been renewed – he came out of the Jordan River with a new heart. A heart that had experienced the greatness and power of the true God and wanted to worship Him alone. A heart filled of peace, joy and new life by accepting God’s way.
The path from my way to God’s way
God is a Giver and Satisfier. He wants to give us much more than what we want or imagine. Therefore, in His intention to bless us, He even changes our desires:
- By teaching us to direct our thoughts to Him. He knows that we start to long for the things we stare on and linger on. When our focus is on God and His things, we begin to want Him more and more.
- By allowing periods of brokenness so we can understand what really moves us. Then the answer to the questions “What am I afraid of? Which are the things I want? What do I need and what do I deserve? “, pop up with crystal clarity. Brokenness is God’s test of our hearts.
- By teaching us to redirect our desires, our needs and our rights with God’s Word. To submit them under His control and care. Thus, we release ourselves from the need to control people, things, and circumstances to get what we want.
In what areas of your life can you recognize “your way”? Which desires, expectations and rights do you consider as needs? I would be happy if you share your opinion in the comments below.