Doing What Comes Naturally
Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Genesis 27:41
Yesterday, while driving, I heard a radio commercial for some herbal supplement that is marketed to promote healthy sleep. It’s natural so you know it’s healthy. That idea always chafes me. Opium is natural. So is cyanide. That which is natural isn’t necessarily healthy. Daily, I work with patients who continually make terrible decisions, simply doing that which comes naturally to them.
This is a profound life problem. Erroneously believing that fulfillment comes from doing whatever makes them happy right now, my patients often choose immediate gratification, causing themselves misery upon misery in the end. Because they’re doing that which is natural – following their appetites – they have this expectation of joy and peace. In this state, they remain absolutely blind to the connection between their terrible life decisions and their pain. Why is my life such a disaster? Until they see that they are the primary cause of their own misery, they’re never going to be able to find peace. Natural doesn’t mean healthy.
I’ve been there. I’ve lived the natural, impulsive life, doing whatever feels good in the moment. I ate whatever I wanted, following my natural appetite . . . and I got fat. I drank and took the pills that naturally felt good . . . and I ruined my life. If I wanted to turn my life around, I had to realize that doing whatever comes naturally to me is disastrous. Natural doesn’t mean healthy.
This is the story of Esau’s life. Once, when hungry, he impulsively traded his entire inheritance for a bowl of stew. When it came to marriage, he didn’t follow his parent’s advice, seeking out a wife of faith, but rather married not one, but two women didn’t follow God. When his brother tricked Isaac into blessing him instead, Esau raged. I’m going to kill Jacob. Esau lived an impulsive, natural life, doing whatever he wanted in the moment, and it cost him everything that should have been his. Natural doesn’t mean healthy.
Not all our miseries are self-inflicted. Still, we’re responsible for our own joy and peace, and we find those things only in a relationship with God. This however, isn’t natural for us. Abandoning self to follow God’s will is the opposite of natural. What this means is that if we desire to experience life, joy, and peace, then we must daily do the unnatural – follow God and his will. If we don’t purposefully choose this path, then we naturally follow our own path, which is anything but healthy.