The Intersection of Fear & Desire
AUGUST 8, 2023
“Nostalgia is a hell of drug.”
A quick Google search of the above statement produced some 17 million results. You read that right, seventeen million!
The statement struck me while reading through Haggai recently. The prophet’s work is limited to two chapters which you could read on a smoke break (I’m dating myself). Nostalgia shows up in the second chapter:
‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? (2:3)
The prophet uses nostalgia as a means of stirring the people up. And by people, I really mean the geriatric population. They would’ve been the only ones alive who would’ve stood the chance of remember the former glory of the temple.
It had been seventy years since they’d been taken into exile. So you can imagine the aged among them with foggy memories of their childhood dimly recalling what that temple was like.
Yet, what they saw now was the crumbling ruins of a once glorious house where the Spirit of the Lord supposedly dwelt.
After Haggai offers a nod to the past, he tries to give them a glimpse of the future:
And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. (2:7)
The glory of the former temple had faded, but there would yet be a future day with a new temple whose glory would far surpass the one now lying in ruins.
The emphasis on “treasures of nations” is worth pondering for a moment. Some translations render the word “desires” instead of “treasures.” Could Haggai be channeling the Psalmist?
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
It especially makes sense with the additional light that Jesus gives: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:34).
What is it that you desire?
Maybe you’ve heard that sex, money, and power are the big three that topple great men (and women!). All good things that destroy us when they become “god things.” At their root, they are all creaturely needs run amok: intimacy, possessions, and influence are all things we can find in the Lord. But it’s easy to look to them as pseudo-saviors. And they always disappoint.
Show me someone who has made any of these good things into a “god thing” and I’ll show you someone who struggles with fear and anxiety. For when our desires grow beyond the scope of what the Lord has promised and provided, the result is always fear.
We fear we’ll lose the things we’re clinging to for deliverance.
Haggai knew this.
So he admonishes the people to “be strong” (2:4) and “fear not” (2:5).
Our desires are not innately bad, but ultimate satisfaction is found only in God. There’s a reason Augustine’s well-worn words still get a lot of mileage:
“Our hearts are restless, O God, until they find their rest in Thee.”
Read God’s audacious promise through Haggai:
For the Lord of Armies says this: “Once more, in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. (2:6)
He’ll move heaven and earth. Why? To bring us the desire of our heart. Assuming that desire is to be reunited with our maker. To bring us peace (2:9). Deliver us from fear and anxiety.
Don’t believe him?
We need to hear that old story once again:
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Matt. 27:50-51)
Jesus was the final temple. He’d dwell among us. But he’d be destroyed (Matt. 27:50) so that we might desire him once again. He’d shake the earth to shake us out of complacency and reunite us with himself. He’s with you. Do you desire him?