The Powerball lottery is played in forty-four states, Washington, D.C., and two U.S. territories. The drawing to be held tomorrow has grown to over $700 million, the largest in history. Every hour, between $5 million and $10 million in Powerball sales are expected in California. Clearly people want to be part of such a huge jackpot.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Electronics Show is continuing through tomorrow. It seems appropriate that the show is in Las Vegas, since so much of what is being revealed is a gamble—for inventors, producers, and consumers. A robotic dog, a smart ski airbag vest, and an alarm clock that wakes you by using scents are among the inventions unveiled so far. Companies must think we want ever-smarter technology, because that’s what they’re creating.
In Teach Us to Want, Jen Pollock Michel reports on a new field of psychology called “wantology.” According to her, “A wantologist helps clients verbalize their latent, unrequited desires and moves them toward achieving happiness by identifying the ways they can satisfy those desires. The goal of wantology is to help clients connect the dots of desire: what do they want, and how do they get it?”
A “wantologist” helps you discover what you want. Our Father has already discovered what you need. He wants to meet that need, often in ways you would never imagine.
Ezra was an anointed scholar who taught God’s word to the nation and helped spark one of the greatest spiritual awakenings in history. One of the amazing facets of his story is the way God provided for the material needs he and his rebuilding nation faced.
In Ezra 7, the Persian King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter granting him safe passage back to Israel. He also commissioned Ezra “to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia” (vs. 15–16). Much of this “silver and gold” had been stolen by the Babylonians when they destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and exiled the people (Ezra 6:5).
Therefore, while the Jews were exiled for seventy years, their religious possessions were preserved in Babylon rather than being exposed to theft and destruction back in their devastated and deserted homeland. Now the Persian king decreed that the Babylonian treasures taken from the Jewish people be returned to their homeland. And so it was.
God can always provide for us more effectively than we can provide for ourselves. He knows what we need better than we do (Matthew 6:8, 32). As our loving Father, he will always “give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).
Here’s the challenge: We must trust that what he wants for us is best for us.
You live in an existentialist culture that centers on you—what you want, when you want it. Our consumer-based economy depends on making and selling more stuff that advertisers can sell to you. It’s counter-cultural in the extreme to ask first, What does God want for me? What would most glorify him? Serve others? Make the world better?
Paradoxically, the more we think first of God and others, the more we position ourselves to receive God’s best in return. He is not a giant lottery—he is a loving Father. And he always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.