If you could say in one word what you want more of in life, what would that be?
What this question gets at is longing. This Advent, we are talking about longing.
Advent is a season of longing. Ancient Christians created the season of Advent as a four week long preparatory time for the great celebration of Christmas. Advent means “coming,” and it looks back to the first coming of the Messiah, when Jesus was born. It also points forward to Jesus’ second coming. As Jesus taught us, we need to be ready for his second coming. There is a sense, then, in which Advent is a period focused on longing for Jesus to return, and so we would do well to evaluate our longings. Are we longing for the right things?
I read an article this week in which the author asked the same question of her readers that I asked you: in one word, what do you want more of in your life? This is just another way of asking, “What do long for?” Nearly 800 people responded, and the results were fascinating. I’m going to list the top 8. What do you think nearly 800 people in our society said they want more of?
- 8 – Confidence
- 7 – Fulfillment
- 6 – Balance
- 5 – Joy
- 4 – Peace
- 3 – Freedom
- 2 – Money
- 1 – Happiness
People have many longings. This is no surprise. What is alarming is that there seems to be a growing sense in our culture of longings going unfulfilled.
Another article I read talked about this. The article studied the death rate in the USA from 1959 through 2017. The general trend: the death rate improved a great deal for several decades, particularly in the 1970s, then slowed down, pretty much leveled off and has recently reversed course after 2014, increasing dramatically since then.
The article reported sharp especially among those in mid-life, ages 25-64. The report showed the trend to be true both genders, all races and ethnicities. By age group, the highest relative jump in death rates between the years 2010 and 2017, a jump of 29 percent, was people age 25 to 34. What is going on? The title of the article is “There’s something terribly wrong.”
One person in the article said:
“Whether it’s economic, whether it’s stress, whether it’s deterioration of family, people are feeling worse about themselves and their futures, and that’s leading them to do things that are self-destructive and not promoting health.”
This is alarming because, we are the richest country in the history of the world. We’re not in a major war. Our health care is amazing. We have loads of connection through social media. We are more educated than ever before. We have so much opportunity. Yet there is deep despair in so many in our culture, leading to self-destructive behavior. What is going on? Perhaps at the root is a epidemic of unfulfilled longing.
As I answered for myself the question above, “What do you want more of in life?” I’ll admit that “peace” and “money” were the first two words that came to my mind. Let us consider this: How many of us thought of Jesus? How many people are longing for Jesus?
We might actually find that a bit odd. “What do you mean, ‘longing for Jesus,’ Joel?” What I am referring to is the long-held Christian idea that in Jesus and Jesus alone is where we will find the answer to all our longings. But is it true? Keep following the blog, as our next few post will look into that.
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