Part of being human is wanting more than one thing at the same time. Sometimes the two things we want conflict with one another. Take eating and sleeping, for instance, our most basic bodily needs. Have you ever been so tired that all you wanted to do was sleep? So tired you could hardly get out of bed? But you were hungry, too?
As a midwife, this happens to me after a very long labor and birth. As an international traveler, it happens to me when the journey is long, and the jet-lag is severe. I usually force myself to get up, eat something small, and then go back to bed. Sleep at that time feels so good, and food tastes so good, too, because I am really hungry. There is a proverb that says, “To the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.”
The conflict between eating and sleeping is easily resolved, just a simple matter of doing one first and then the other. It’s a matter of timing. One thing waits on another, and the desire for both is fulfilled. Delay is minimal, thank God, because we need both sleep and nourishment to live.
It’s important to understand the role of Time in the fulfillment of our desires, especially our deepest desires — the ones that go beyond eating and sleeping — the ones that are in the heart.
When Jesus was going to the Cross, he stopped to pray in a garden. He knew he was going to suffer, and he didn’t want to suffer the agony of torture and death. So he prayed to God, the Father, and he said:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Jesus prayed, just as he had taught his disciples to pray, that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. He wanted two things at the same time, two things that were in conflict with one another: to avoid suffering and pain and, at the same time, to go through it in order to accomplish God’s will — the atonement for sin, the redemption of humanity, so that the whole world would be reconciled to God and experience salvation.
For those who put their trust in Jesus, maturing in faith means surrendering our conflicting desires — our desire to have two opposing things at the same time — to God’s will and God’s timing.
To desire God’s will above all other desires is to become like Jesus.
Look into this cup:
what do you see?
It’s the image of suffering
that saved you and me.
The Light in this wine,
never ages or fades,
but lives as a sign,
beautiful in eternity.