Three Wishes, Christ’s Promise, and a Comfortable Life
“Master, I grant you three wishes,” promised the genie.
Aladdin stared at the creature that had suddenly appeared out of the old oil lamp.
Thus began the adventures of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.
When I heard this tale as a child, I wondered what I would ask for if a genie asked me that question. A new toy? A reprieve from chores? Popularity at school?
The other day, as I listened to John 14, I thought of the genie’s offer. After the Last Supper, Christ prepared his disciples for the events to follow. Peppered within this discourse, Christ makes what appears to be an amazing promise—that He will give them whatever they ask.
Sounds like the genie’s offer. Sounds too good to be true.
Hmm…I’d like my cataract surgery* to correct all my vision problems. For my left hip to not need a second revision on the hip replacement. To be freed of responsibilities so I have more time to write.
All things centered on me—my comfort, my plans, my goals.
A closer look at John 14:12-14 reveals this promise was given in the context of ministry, in doing good works. Jesus explained that the disciples would do even greater works than He did.
It was at that point, when the disciples were probably wondering if they had heard right, when Jesus promised Himself as their resource. He would make their ministry possible. They simply needed to ask.
The promise was not for their comfort.
The promise was for God’s kingdom.
The promises that follow in John 15 and 16 relate to abiding in Christ (John 15:7) and doing Christ’s work. Similar statements in the New Testament sometimes attach qualifiers of asking in faith (Matthew 21:22) or according to God’s will (I John 5:14). Christ’s bold promise in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask and ye shall receive,” (Matthew 7:7) implies a legitimate need such as a child asking a parent for bread to calm a growling stomach.
Can I find justification in the Bible to ask that my problems magically disappear?
Yet that’s where my heart wants to go.
A child naturally wants pain, the hard stuff to go away. As an adult and a Christ-follower I should be reconciled to the fact that life is difficult, and that God often uses suffering to develop a hunger for something more than temporal comfort. I am ashamed that often (usually) I childishly desire comfort.
God wants us to desire Him first.
Reconsidering three wishes, maybe I should ask that my vision limitations deepen my trust in God. That the uncertainty of my hip’s future will motivate me to be thankful for each pain-free hip day. That God will use me in whatever way He chooses to encourage others and allow His life to be seen in me.
What is one of your eternal perspective wishes?
* (I wrote this blog entry a couple days ago and my surgery was yesterday. Some of my sight has been restored, but I still have significant challenges.)