A long series of choices

By Dave Henning / February 22, 2024

“But the day comes when you’re lying in the bath and you notice . . . that the way you’re living bares scarcely any resemblance to what you thought you always wanted, and yet, you realize you got there by a long series of choices.”- Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense (2012)

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 4 of Making Sense of God with the third through fifth strategies that people take toward their discontentment.

 3.  The driven.  A secular culture assumes that satisfaction comes as you accrue possessions and accomplishments.  However, even if you reach your material goals, you still find something significant missing.

Consequently, you blame the things you have and embark on an endless quest for the next best things.  But in reality, you merely speed up the hedonic treadmill.  Thus, to maintain the same pleasure, you need more and more of the same level of attainment.  And sooner or later, you find yourself too exhausted to go on.

4.  The despairing.  Even if we fail to find ‘it’ after removing obstacles and achieving more and more, we nevertheless continue to assume “it” exists.  As a result, in some cases, rather than blame other things, we blame ourselves.  So when we take an honest look at ourselves, it’s easy to see ways we’ve contributed to our own frustration.  Because, as Francis Spufford points out, for a time it’s possible to live in denial of our active tendency to break stuff.  But then the ‘aha’ bathtub moment comes.

5.  Altruism.  Here people turn to benevolence and social activism to find more fulfillment for themselves.  Instead of living for personal advancement.  Above all, Pastor Keller sees this approach as ultimately and ironically selfish.  Because, in truth, this supposed generosity really serves to build oneself up.

Hence, helping others in response to your own discontent fails to work in the long run.  Either for others or for you.

Today’s question: What Bible verses sustain you when a long series of choices confront you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The ultimate disordered love”

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Dave Henning

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