Prosperity vs. Providence: What You Want Isn't Always What You Need

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I’ve mentioned before that for me, when it comes to relying on God, I like to think more along the lines of believing in providence rather than prosperity.

The word “providence” comes from the word “provide,” which means “to make available” or “to supply.” The word always takes into account what is to come. Prosperity means “successful, flourishing, thriving.” Not that there’s anything wrong with having a life that’s successful, flourishing, or thriving, but at the same time, meditate on this Bible verse: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

We live in a society that doesn’t understand the difference between “Need” and “Want.” Blimey Cow did a video on this:

Let’s apply the strategy from Messy Mondays to the things that we want.

Would we really be in serious trouble if we didn’t have the perfect house or a nice car or a million dollars? Pope Francis lives in what is basically an apartment building and only rides in the Popemobile once a week. Not to mention that since he’s a Jesuit, he’s taken a vow of poverty. Would we really be in serious trouble if we missed an episode, or heck a whole season, of the latest hit TV show? I get by pretty fine avoiding How to Get Away With Murder and Game of Thrones. Would we really be in serious trouble if we didn’t get the job we wanted? Well, that’s a bit of a gray area, but honestly, it’s not like getting the corner office is the end-all be-all. It’s good to have a job, but not at the expense of everything else.

We will always want things. It’s part of being human. We may think that we “need” things, but in reality, we may just be wanting something that’s not the best for us right now. Like, hypothetically speaking, say that there’s a girl who always whines about needing a boyfriend. It’s not exactly the end of the world if she doesn’t have one. The trick to figuring out what we need versus what we want involves learning what we can reasonably live without. You may want to go on a trip, but you can’t exactly afford to do so because you need that money for the rent or to pay off the mountain of student loans you have hanging over your head. Although I didn’t exactly make all 30 days of Leah Darrow’s “The Closet Challenge,” the task made me realize what clothes I don’t really use or wear. In other words, it made me learn what kind of clothes I needed as opposed to clothes I wanted but may not wear all the time. It also kept me from asking for new clothes, even though I had the opportunity to get new clothes if I so wanted to.

When we look at our lives and plan for the future, it’s better to have realistic expectations of getting the things that we need. The Gospel of Happiness says that it’s better to have realistic expectations in the long run. The good news is that while we can plan for the future, we can bring God into it by asking Him to provide for what we need. “Give us this day our daily bread,” as it says in the Our Father.

And sometimes, the Lord can give us what we want. I didn’t exactly need to go to Comicpalooza, but I still did and ended up having the time of my life. The way to have realistic expectations about what we want, though, is understanding and accepting that we don’t always get what we want all the time. We will always have what we need. Just that we can’t always get what we want.

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