We are living in a world full of insecurity. Wherever we look, we see people worried and insecure. Children are worried about their studies, social acceptance or home environment. Mom is worried about the health of her children or her husband’s love. Dad is worried about his job, financial security or control over family matters. Especially in a materialistic culture, financial security is foremost,in the minds of most people. The topic of discussion usually at social gatherings is on the stock market or moneymaking ventures. In the above struggle, many tend to loose sight of the will and purpose of God in their lives, andforget to enjoy this life and the stress of creating financial security is clearly visible on their faces.
Let us go to Old Testament times. Israel was brought out of the slavery of Egypt by the mighty hand of God under the leadership of Moses. In their sojourn through the wilderness, they had to go through all types of difficult situations. The merciful God provided everything for their journey. The heavenly Manna as food for daily use was falling. They were asked to gather enough for a day. But, some of them wondered, what would happen if the manna stopped falling tomorrow? They felt insecure about their future,because of their lack of faith, and they gathered it day and night. So, what happened to the manna they amassed? It stunk the next day. Don’t you see the manna still falling today? The merciful God is providing everything we need for our journey through this wilderness. Every morning, we wake up and gather His provisions.
The grains and fruits we eat and the oxygen we breathe are produced by photosynthesis in plants. Everyday, the sun rises at the precise time, irrespective of computer breakdowns, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions. The energy from the sun rays is captured by the chlorophyll in green leaves, and turned into grains, fruits, and vegetables, which then turn into fish, poultry, and meat. How amazing is the provision and care of Jehovah Jireh, my provider and sustainer! But, some of us feel so insecure about future,because our eyes are focused on the perishable manna instead of God the provider.
The very rich in society are usually a miserable lot. Jesus in the Bible said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter heaven. These are the rich whose focus is on wealth. This gives them a false sense of security around them. In fact, God is providing enough for everybody. So, what happens to their wealth? It stinks! Just like the eagle takes its wings and flies away, the wealth flies away—the stock market crashes, investmentsare lost, somebody steals it, or their children squander it.
This doesn’t mean we do not work hard or save enough for a rainy day or a day of Sabbath. But,rainy days will not last forever. Let us gather manna with the sick and handicapped or less privileged also in mind. Let us live and let others also live. Let us serve and be served in this process. This is the role model, Jesus has shown us, “Just as the son of man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28).
Those who do not have faith in God or His provisions play politics. They come to positions of influence, to steal, plunder, murder, and to get more than their share of the pie.
You start a business with the intention of meeting the needs of customers. You study to become a doctor to help the sick. You jump into politics to serve others or to fight for justice. You use your freely-given talents to help others who are less talented. Businesses that have succeeded are those that took service as their motto. “Billions and Billions Served” is the motto of a successful chain of restaurants. Men and women in public service are remembered for their selfless service and sacrifice rather than their ability to play politics.
People consider you smart if you can amass more of this perishable manna than others for your selfish use. They think, “Wow! He could gather all this Manna. He must be really smart.” Newspapers and magazines depict them as role models, irrespective of the means they used to reach there. In the quest for wealth and glory, we tend to forget the most important things in life—its meaning and purpose.
When the sun is about to set in your life, if you turn back and recollect the trail you followed, it is a bunch of memories only. These memories are your own. Some of these memories are very precious to you; memories you have nurtured and cherished in your life all along. Some of these memories you are not that proud of. You might wish to recreate the moment if you had another chance. Then you would have created a different memory altogether. God has given this creative talent in us to create memories in our life and in the lives of others—memories that are evergreen.
Bible says, “The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.” (Prov. 10:7) These memories are your rewards in life—memories you take with you to the other world and memories to pass on to the next generation. These are memories you created by being a blessing to another person or group. Jesus summarizes this in, “If your friend compels you to walk one mile, walk two with him instead. Here Jesus is talking about the manifold needs of a human life.
You must have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory put forward by the famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow. All the needs a person can face in a lifetime are organized in a hierarchical order in a pyramid form. Whether it is appropriate to place these needs in this order is debatable. Still, it covers almost all the needs a person might face in life, except spiritual needs or the need to know our creator.
The hierarchy of needs is presented as a pyramid consisting of five levels—the lowest level being basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Once this need is met, a person craves for safety and security.
Once a stable job or source of income is assured, the person desires love, intimacy, and social relationships. Once these needs are met through family, friends, or social organizations, the next level of need creeps in—desire to be recognized, acknowledged, and appreciated. These are the self-esteem needs or the need for recognition. Unmet, esteem needs are the root cause of many psychological problems. Many of the behavioral problems we face in congregations and other organizations are due to this unmet need for recognition. One of the reasons, organizations fragment is this underlying need for recognition.
The top level of the pyramid is self-actualization, where a person is satisfied in his level of being, having reached his full potential. We can see Apostle Paul as a person who reached this level.He says, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Rom. 8: 38–39 Kings James Version).
Near the end of his life, Maslow revealed that there is a level on the hierarchy that is above self-actualization, and it is called self-transcendence. This is a stage of mystic, sacred, and ecstatic experience—a stage of union with the supreme. A person can reach this level only with spiritual help. The beauty of this spiritual ecstatic stage is that the person is not bound by lower-level needs to reach this stage.
We see cut-throat competition to meet all of the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy, except for the spiritual needs. Here, there is no need to compete at the expense of another person. God is the provider of all our needs. It is the lack of faith in God that makes people steal, plunder, and kill.
The Manna is still falling. Let us take our focus away from this perishable Manna, and put our focus on God—the life-giving Manna that gives peace and eternal life. This peace fills our hearts, flows through our veins, spreads throughout our bodies, and radiates from our faces. Let stress and strain be replaced by heavenly peace and wisdom. Let us share this living Manna with others, so that they also may have heavenly peace and eternal life. Tell about this valuable truth to all you love and care.
Insecurity is widespread at all levels of social life. Heavenly peace can seep into family life, the workplace, interpersonal relations, and relations among nations, if we are wise enough to take our focus away from this perishable Manna and develop a bond with God,the creator of this Universe.