“Jesus took the twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.”
Jerusalem was where Jesus reached the climax of His Father’s will.
“I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent me.” (John 5:30)
Doing the will of the Father was the one dominating interest all through our Lord’s life, and the things He met along the way—joy or sorrow, success or failure—never deterred Him from His purpose. He steadfastly set his face towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).
We go to Jerusalem to fulfill God’s purpose, not ours. We of course will have ambitions along the way, but we have no concept of what God is aiming at. We may have our own ideas of what God is calling us to, but since we don’t know God’s whole plan, it may end up looking differently to us. Sometimes God’s aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short sighted to see what He is aiming at.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pastures. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
A lot of people hear this verse and get confused when they don’t get the desires of their heart. But I think we are confusing the meaning of what it’s actually saying.
To delight in someone means to experience great pleasure and joy in his or her presence. This happens only when we know that person well. Thus, to delight in the Lord, we must know him better. Knowledge of God’s great love for us will indeed give us delight. As we get to know Him better, we start to desire the very delight that just his presence brings.
The passage continues after that…
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”
To commit ourselves to the Lord means entrusting everything—our lives, families, jobs, possessions, dreams—to his control and guidance. To commit ourselves to the Lord means to trust in him (37:5), believing that he can care for us better than we can ourselves. We should be willing to wait patiently (37:7) for him to work out what is best for us.
Anger and worry (fretting) are two very destructive emotions. They reveal a lack of faith that God loves us and is in control. We should not worry; instead, we should trust in God, giving ourselves to him for his use and safekeeping. When you dwell on your problems, you will become anxious and angry. But if you concentrate on God and his goodness, you will find peace.
So more and more we see that what this verse is actually saying is not that if you don’t get what you want, it’s because God didn’t actually put that desire in your heart. It’s that our true desire should be to be with God.
When we delight in God the true desire of our heart will turn from things of this world, to being in his presence. Our ambitions are good, but they are only the scaffolding around the plan that God actually has for you. We can’t know that plan fully, but we can stay in his presence and delight in that. We have not yet understood all there is to know of the compelling purpose of God.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please of speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
If we desire anything in this world more than we desire God, we will be disappointed. Always. But when our hope is in what is unseen and our joy comes from the One who provides and overflowing fountain of it, we will never be empty or defeated.
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”