Is it legitimate for people to ask questions in times of crisis? Certainly! Oftentimes in tones of desperation, we do ask why.
When financial crisis hit, it is difficult to provide the reasons for its causes or even to speculate on who is responsible for it. Moreover,coming up with a concrete plan on how to overcome this financial crisis is in itself a major challenge.
But that is not the goal of this article. Rather, as one concerned with missionaries and those to whom they are sent, I would like to comment on this world condition and try to provide words of hope amidst what is happening.
The Search for Satisfaction
Oftentimes, our continuous search for satisfaction, meaning and achievement—a search to satisfy the desires created by us, the world, the media, and those who want to sell us something—turns us into slaves.
The more we try to satisfy ourselves with things produced by human inventions, whose objective is only profit and where the ultimate goal is making us addicted, the emptier we will feel.
The emptier we feel the greater will be the need to continue buying, acquiring things, doing this or that, going to this place, that position, or toward that other ‘promise’.
In the end, we continue to be thirsty, empty, and miserable. We continue to feel alone, living without any real satisfaction enslaved by various circumstances.
Slaves to Possesions
Slaves, indeed, we are when we buy more than we can afford, own more than we need, and do not free ourselves from the desire to want more things, to buy more of those things that in fact we do not need, more of what does not satisfy.
In the process of searching for those things we think will fulfill the emptiness inside us, we become slaves of those who sell to us, slaves of disillusionment and unhappiness, slaves of the author of emptiness himself.
Why do we believe the fabulous promises of the media, the fantastic commercials and advertisements?
Why do we voluntarily give ourselves to this kind of slavery? Why do we spend so much time reading books or magazines that are just trash, watch so much television, and browse the internet endlessly?
Why are we always checking and waiting for an e-mail message as if it will bring us the remedy for these problems? Who will end up paying the price? Will it be us, our children, our grandchildren?
Where Do We Find peace?
The prophet Isaiah announced a message of hope to all of us ‘slaves of this world.’ To those who fall victim to ever-demanding consumerism, those who are empty and enslaved by the desire to buy more, enslaved by the wish to be satisfied with the world’s offers—to these the prophet proclaims, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1).
This invitation is given not only to those who are hungry and thirsty, those who have desires and wishes, or those who are empty and in need.
The invitation is given to all who are imprisoned by circumstances, enslaved by their desires, trapped by commercials, addicted to buying, those who have no power to decide for what is right.
The invitation is given to the indebted, those without money, those who are exhausted of paying, without ever getting satisfied with the “promised merchandise.” To all of us who are thirsty, empty, with debts and without money, the invitation is given. It is free.
Cause of Inner Emptiness
The question that Isaiah asks in verse 2 indicates the reason for this emptiness, thirst, and hunger. He says: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:2).
Doesn’t the enslavement created by commercials, the dependency and addiction generated by the media, make us spend “our money” on what is not water or bread, on what does not satisfy?
What then is the answer, the antidote to addiction to the media and to the worldly things that so cruelly enslaves us? What is the answer to the desperate emptiness and meaningless that many (even missionaries) constantly feel?
The answer is found in the Word of God. “…Jesus stood and said [to the multitudes] in a loudvoice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'” (John 7:37-38).
Multitudes in this world are empty, thirsty, and enslaved. Indicators of the moral and economicchaos today shows this reality. Unfortunately, some of us may be taking part in it.
Why do we have to buy on credit, with credit cards, or in installments, or start paying only in a couple of years?
And, on top of that, why do we believe the ‘promises’ of complete and guaranteed product satisfaction?
Why is this illusion of quality of life and better social status so strong that we end up believing promises that cannot be fulfilled?
Why despite all our efforts, are we not fulfilled? Why do we continue spending our money, time, and energy in what does not satisfy?
It seems that we run after a ‘promise.’ Shouldn’t we rather consider the promise of Jesus? “…Tohim who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life (Revelation 21:6).
Only Jesus Can Satisfy
Only the Lord Jesus can freely give of the water of life. He is the living water that truly satisfies. And this water of life, the only thing that can really fulfill us is totally free—but it is not cheap.
It cost a very unique and high price. It cost the life of Jesus. That is the reason we can accept it without money and without price.
The answer to our moral and economic crisis is not found in buying or acquiring more, in havingmore, or in satisfying our desires and needs with things or promises produced by this world.
The answer is found in the invitation extended to you and me by Jesus Himself: “…’Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).
After having been filled up with this free gift of the water of life, wouldn’t you want to share His invitation to everyone around you? Remember, what we do not give, we lose.
So, go forward sharing Jesus, because He is the gift that satisfies!
By Wagner Kuhn