DELAYED GRATIFICATION

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In the world today there is a tendency for people, in particular youths, to crave for wealth and material possessions or for them to nurse ambitions with expectations that are far removed from reality. They are not willing to go through the works, as it were. They want their dreams to materialise in a very short time – in the here and now.

They want to ignore the painful stages of life which should mould them for the challenges ahead. It is like someone deciding to climb a mountain without taking into account all the constraints and likely setbacks – not to talk of the host of frustrations and failures that could punctuate the way – before reaching the summit.

These steps in life constitute a learning-curve which would help to shape one into a rounded individual who has been through an apprenticeship phase. In this way, he or she can appreciate and value the things of life at different stages.

For instance, a newly-appointed civil servant would like to possess a car, build a house, marry a wife and start a family in the first three years of being gainfully employed. When that happens, you end up at a stage in life where you have not experienced the various phases that would have prepared you for maturity.

Let’s look around and see how many youngsters smoke or consume alcoholic beverages and boast of it as a sign of manhood. Little do they realise the level of damage being done to their health.  How many of them in their teens are engaged in sex and end up being fathers who are unable to fend for their little ones.

This generation delights in pleasures which if they it had exercised patience could be fully enjoyed at the appropriate time. When you pluck an unripe fruit, you cannot consume it right away. You will have to wait until it ripens. Whereas when you harvest a ripe fruit, you can enjoy how delicious it is without having to wait. This is what we mean by delayed gratification. You may lust and hunger for it now when it is not the appropriate or ideal time. By indulging in it now, you reap only regrets.

The world that God created operates in phases and when we put the cart before the horse, matters grind to a halt. They cease to make progress. The end result is that we heap frustrations upon frustrations. Then we get to a point where we become despondent and give up. 

Much of this craze we owe to the current pace and mood of life. Today we lust for fast food. In traffic, we choose the fast lane. We want to fast track every process in a bid to shorten the steps and stages -- only to end up with a product that does not match our ideals. What a pity!  

To illustrate the point, let us take the story of Esau and Jacob; twin brothers. Prior to their birth, Rebecca consulted an oracle and “The Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23) Did Rebecca hear right? Most probably not because when she overheard her husband’s intention of blessing Esau, the eldest son, she conspired with Jacob, the youngest son, to deceive her husband; just so that the tables would turn in favour of Jacob. She forgot that the Lord had said ‘the older would serve the younger.’

Jacob, the deceiver, had used trickery to gain his elder brother’s birth right. Esau returns home from the field hungry just as Jacob had finished preparing some appetising food. Jacob seized the opportunity to swap his elder brother’s birthright, for a bowl of stew. The oracle was already in Jacob’s favour, why the rush? However, it seemed God’s process was a bit slow so both mother and son connived to provide the needed assistance. In the end Jacob had to flee the home or else Esau in his anger would have killed him. In a bid to fast tract God’s oracle, Rebecca did more harm than good.

For a child to stand, that child has to learn how to sit; to walk, the child has to be able to stand and so on and so forth. We cannot skip these stages and expect to have credible and tangible results. We only will when we learn to delay the joys and pleasures of this time until the time is right. The Bible calls it, ‘the fullness of time.’

School children who forgo the pleasures of the world and concentrate on their studies will secure for themselves a better future than those who think they can get away with mediocre performance.

In such a competitive world like ours, everyone is running a race, striving to win. No one wants to be a loser; yet not all of us will be winners.  

JOSEPH, THE DREAMER (Joseph, one of the twelve children of Jacob had a dream which he shared with his brothers)

Joseph: “Listen to this dream I had. We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” (Genesis 37:6) “Listen, I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars [i.e. his siblings] were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9) His brothers envied him and would have killed him but for one of them, Reuben, who pleaded with them. They opted thereafter to sell him into slavery which landed him in Egypt. There he realised his dream but not after going through rough times which got him put in prison.

But just when it seemed like his dream had died, God in His sovereign power elevated him from prison to the palace as second-in-command to the Pharaoh. God delayed the realisation of Joseph’s dream for thirteen years until it was ‘the fullness of time.’ The prophecy was fulfilled big time. His brothers bowed down before him as an eminent governor in a foreign land.

What has God said about you that you think He will not accomplish? “Be still,” He says, “and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye