The other day I was thinking about Tim Keller and his wife’s keen observation of the psalmist’s comparing God to a foul, specifically a hen, in their collaborative devotional The Songs of Jesus: “He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark” (Ps. 91:4). In their opining of the rather paradoxical protectiveness of a comparatively fragile, paper-like “shield” from danger, they noted that in order to shield the chicks from the storm, the mother hen takes the brunt of the tempest, thus sacrificing herself and suffering for the sake of preserving the lives of her beloved children. Parallel this with Christ, sometimes in order to protect, one must give up something—there must be sacrifice. It isn’t always deliberate, sometimes it’s inevitable, necessary.
Likewise, while sitting across the table eating dinner with my wife, a weird thought came to mind: where there is enjoyment in something (i.e. eating my HEB salmon-lobster oven-ready meal), there is also the loss of something (i.e. the more I eat and enjoy, the less salmon-lobster combo lies on my plate ready for consumption). My sweet wife replied to this abstract and honestly bizarre dinner subject proposal, “That’s a sad way to look at things.” It was funny but led to an interesting dialogue.
In other words, the more I enjoy something, there is an entropic, or decaying of sorts, effect. The culmination of the pleasurableness leads only to the diminishment of the future opportunity to further enjoyment and indulgence of that pleasure; therefore a simultaneous increase and decrease of enjoyment. Adverting the Christian comparison, while Christ was suffering, we were benefitting; while he was dying, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He knew unequivocally there would come an insurmountable joy after the hurtle of the cross, by which the effect of sin and death is inverted by the resurrection. Initial dread of the sinister outcome of this bodily expiration (i.e. death) is now converted into an expectation of future enjoyment. Now, instead of eating my HEB, salmon-lobster, oven-ready meal knowing every bite quickens its finality, the cross assures the eternal eating of the HEB, salmon-lobster, oven-ready meal, so to speak.
Moreover, dessert doesn’t matter since the perpetuation of my enjoyment supersedes the meal itself. The meal isn’t the source of the enjoyment; the enjoyment is the means by which I can relish the goodness of the wonderful combo of the salmon-lobster dinner and further share it with my wife. Enjoyment manifest is the Gospel. I’ll no longer have to eat knowing there’s an end. I’m free to enjoy everything God designed for its original purpose knowing full well Jesus is “the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (Jn. 6:35).