I want It and I Deserve It

Oct 15 2017

I WANT IT AND I DESERVE IT

To begin today, I would like you to think back to a time when you experienced a terrible disappointment – one that led you to real grief. At the moment of your deepest depression, which occurred because you lost a love, lost a job, lost a house, I’ll bet that something like this passed through your mind. “I did everything right. I loved that person. I can’t understand why this has happened to me. I don’t deserve this – not after what I did for him/her that job.” We can be very quick to think that we do not deserve some treatment that we are getting because conversely, we believe that we deserve better.

There are many people who think that life owes them and people owe them simply because they think that’s the way it should be.

“There is an old Jewish legend in which a rich but miserable man goes to see his Rabbi. The wise old Rabbi leads him to a window. “Look out there,” he says, “and tell me what you see.”

“I see people,” answers the rich but miserable man. Then the Rabbi leads him to a mirror. “What do you see now?” he asks. “I see myself,” says the rich but miserable man. Then the Rabbi says, “Behold! In the window there is glass. But the glass of the mirror is covered with a little silver, and no sooner is a little silver added than you cease to see others and see only yourself.”  (PIS #1709)

That rich man had everything he wanted and thought he deserved, but it didn’t make him happy. The reason – he thought too much of himself and too little of others.

In our Hebrew lesson this morning we have the Children of Israel in the wilderness. Moses has gone up on the mountain to talk with God and has been gone for awhile. The people gather around Aaron and say, “Make gods for us. As for this Moses who led us out of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron gathers gold and molds the Golden Calf, telling them that this is their god who brought them out of Egypt. God sees it, sends Moses down and threatens to destroy the people. Moses talks God out of it.

The people were too quick to forget who their God really was. They were too quick to forget that it was Jehovah who had brought them out of Egypt. We have talked before about their grumblings in the wilderness – about having no food and water and grumbling that God had brought them into the wilderness to die. Now we have another version of grumbling – only the interesting thing in this version is that they want Aaron to make a god for them. Why? Because they felt they deserved better; the felt they deserved a God to worship, and since they couldn’t find Moses, any other God than the one who designated Moses to lead them would do.

Even when something seems great at the beginning, human nature seems to have a tendency to want more. And that wanting more comes about because we think we deserve more.

I don’t deserve this; I deserve better. Why? Because another part of human nature is never satisfied – never satisfied with what we have, always wanting better. I guess it’s the keep up with the Joneses syndrome.

But the reason it happens to us is the same reason it happened to the Children of Israel in the wilderness. We want more. We’re never satisfied. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that we should not strive to be better or strive to have more. But I am saying that plunging ourselves into despair because of an entitlement that we feel we should have hurts no one but ourselves.

I think this poem sums it up:

A little seed lay on the ground,

and soon began to sprout.

Seeing all the flowers around

It wondered: How shall I come out?”

 

“The lily’s face is fair and proud,

but just a trifle cold.

The rose, I think, is rather loud,

and its fashion is getting old.

 

Of the violet some may think well,

But it’s not a flower I’d choose;

Nor even the Canterbury bell,

I’ve never cared for blues.”

 

And so it criticized each flower,

this haughty little seed,

until it woke one summer noon,

and found itself a weed !

(PIS #1720)

 Now I want you to think back to the incident of your recall at the beginning of this sermon. Did you find something better as a result of the initial loss? Did the fact that you could not have someone or something actually send you in a direction where you finally found something better? That’s the way it usually works. There are many instances when we would have liked something or someone to work out and it doesn’t. The grief is still real, but ultimately, if we are astute and tuned in enough to the circumstances around us, we find something better. But if we try to make something happen, to mold the circumstances in our lives or push someone else to mold the circumstances in their lives to suit us, to create a new something, it doesn’t work – just like the Golden Calf didn’t work for the Israelites.

When all is said and done, we are all exactly who we should be and where we should be at this particular moment in time. There are some circumstances that we can control, but there are a vaster number over which we will never have control, other’s feelings and illnesses to name two.

What is constant, and the Israelites didn’t get, is the presence of God within us and among us. What happens in life isn’t really the issue; the real issue is how we choose to deal with those circumstances. The choice is always ours. I think we have a good chance of making a few right choices as long as we remember that God is with us. Amen.