God is good and everything we receive comes from him. Everything God gives, then, is good. But is it satisfying? Does it leave us wanting? The answer is both no and yes.
No, because we are to follow the gift back to the Giver. We are not simply receiving a gift and severing it from the one who gave it. Every gift is meant to give us something more of the giver, not just from. Knowing the giver is something that happens through the act of giving and of receiving. One could even say the giver gives himself in the gift; we in turn receive the giver through the gift.
But, yes, these gifts or blessings do leave us wanting in a sense. Whatever God gives to us in this life is meant to be a glimpse of something better. These gifts are shadows of substances yet to be seen, aromas of feasts yet to be tasted, notes of masterpieces yet to be heard. Still, we begin to see and taste and hear now.
There is, then, a promise in every gift. We receive both the gift and in it the promise of a better one. The gift stirs our heart with both a blessed delight and a “blessed longing”.
When God gave Israel manna in the desert, it was a “divine” gift. But though it was divine, it was perishable. It was not intended to last forever. Rather, it was to be a sign pointing forward to the promised land God would give them, “a land flowing with milk and honey”.
But in the manna was hidden an even greater gift to come.
The Israelites had no way of seeing forward to that greater gift that was Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. But we not only can look backwards to see Christ on the cross, we can look forward to see Christ risen from the dead. In him there is salvation from slavery to sin, a final exodus from a world filled with brokenness, pain, sorrow and death, and an entrance into a promised new heaven and new earth with abundant, eternal life.
If we set our desires on good things, even the “divine” blessings God gives us today, we will invest these things with a worth that will perish along with them. But if we look beyond and see the One who gives us every blessing, Jesus Christ, if we set our love and hope on him, then our heart will never run dry of joy, adoration or satisfaction.
In Jesus Christ God is active in the world, redeeming the world he has saved from sin. There are untold “riches” that are ours in him. But the material and spiritual blessings we receive now are neither given to be a substitute for himself nor for the blessings that are yet to be enjoyed.
If by “live by faith” we mean live today for God’s blessings—thinking, feeling, believing, and confessing that this life is all there is or the best there is—we’re not living by faith in God but in this life as contained and fulfilled in all these things. But to live by faith in God is to live for God—to find our ultimate joy and satisfaction in him—both now and for eternity.
We never receive fully on earth what God has prepared for us in heaven, in eternity, in “the city whose designer and builder is God”. We love God and we should delight in all his gifts and blessings. But in that delight we also delight in something not yet fully revealed, enjoyed, or imagined, but promised to be. We might say there is a foretaste of eternity in all good things, but none of those things are eternal. Yet.