How to Find Pleasure in God Alone
How to Find Pleasure in God Alone
Do you wonder why life seems stressful and unfulfilling? Do you wonder why there’s friction with the people you’re closest to? Do you wonder why your plans never seem to turn out quite as good you hoped?
According to James, it’s because you’re looking for pleasure in the wrong places:
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)
The Greek word James used for passions was used to describe intense pleasure or enjoyment. It could be the intense pleasure of a beautiful sunrise, or the intense enjoyment of a deep friendship that’s lasted for decades. All good things. But when we try to find pleasure in the world around us and it doesn’t give us the enjoyment we’re looking for, James says we start fussing and fighting with each other.
Because that person didn’t give us the enjoyment we wanted out of you, or they stole the enjoyment we wanted to get out of something else. We’re trying to find pleasure in the world around us, rather than the God who created us,
loves us, and provides for us every day.
The problem according to James is that we just don’t trust God to provide for us: “You do not have, because you do not ask.” When you want something, many times you never go to God to ask for it. Why not?
Maybe you think God’s too busy with more important things. Many Christians say to themselves, “I don’t want to bother God with my petty little requests. He’s got bigger things to worry about.” That sounds humble, but it’s actually prideful and arrogant. You’re taking our infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing God, and you’re saying to him, “I think you’re too small to handle way in Syria and my bad knee.” So you just don’t bother him about it. You don’t trust God to take care of your needs.
And even when you do, you might be spewing out needs that aren’t really needs. Like James says, “You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We say, “God, I need you to get me a raise so I can afford my $600 car payment” and God says, “Really?Why don’t you just sell your car and take the bus!” We say, “Lord, I need you to give me a husband so I can finally be happy” and God says, “Are you sure? Why can’t you be happy with me?”
And that’s the question that determines our level of joy and contentment in life. How can we find pleasure in God alone, rather than desperately trying to find pleasure in our possessions, relationships, and circumstances?
James has a recommendation: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (4:8). Draw near to his glory, goodness, and grace, and he’ll draw near to your needs and desires. So how do we do that?
One way to start is to meditate on his glory, goodness, and grace. The Navigators ministry has put together an excellent 30-Day Prayer Guide on the attributes of God. Simply read a verse each morning, meditate on the attribute of God it describes, and then pray for God to reveal that attribute to you in some way that day, either in your life, in his word, or in the world.
When you find pleasure in God alone, you’ll be freed from the need to find it in the world around you, which will lead to greater fulfillment every day, peace in your relationships, and fruitfulness in life.