Years ago – actually decades ago – when I was in college, a professor one day made this declaration: “I want, ‘wants.’” His point was a simple one. The material things that we desire in life are motivators for us. They can be the reason for working extra hours, longer days, more than one job, and these actions are beneficial to a consumer society, one that depends on the production and consumption of goods. Maybe there was some good logic to this but I am not too sure. Can we tire of “wanting?” Can we have so much stuff that to want one more thing might cause us to bear a greater burden than what that one more thing is worth?
Then there are the intangibles of life like family time and, especially, peace of mind that we seek in the pursuit of wealth, thinking that “enough money” will satisfy all of our desires and provide that all important “peace of mind.”
The psalm does not confirm any of this. Instead it reminds us over and over again – we all know it by heart – that because the Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. Do we believe God’s word? Do we trust Jesus? The things of this world are transient. Even if they last for years and decades the pleasure and satisfaction they give will pass; this is a reality we often don’t recognize until it happens. “True happiness is not found in having everything we want but in wanting everything we have.” There is a lot of wisdom in those words.
The simple truth – maybe it is too simple to recognize as being most profound – is that true happiness and peace of mind are gifts we can only find in Faith, trusting our lives, our future and everyone we love to the goodness of God. With your rod and your staff you give me courage. They are really one instrument. The bottom of the staff He uses like a rod to guide me in right paths for His names sake, while the crook of the staff pulls me back from dangerous ground.