“Seek instant gratification – or the elusive promise of it – and chances are you’ll find a crowd there ahead of you.” – Jeff Bezos
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle
“We live in a society which on the one hand pressurizes us into the pursuit of instant gratification, while the other hand imposes on whole sectors of the population an endless deferment of fulfillment.” – Terry Eagleton
The quote above from Terry Eagleton really hit home with me. For some of us, instant gratification bombards us from both sides.
One is quite clear and obvious. We all live in a world where speed is everything and the idea of waiting seems ancient. Everything from fast food, online shopping with same-day delivery, and an internet that gives us immediate answers to any question we face are just a few examples of a sort of built-in expectation that what you desire is within your instantaneous grasp. No waiting necessary and no inconvenience required.
I’ve been spending the past few days sick at home, so I decided to get out the old family movies and take a trip down memory lane. It’s wonderful to view a time (Christmas 1986 to be exact) when no cell phones distracted you from sitting in a living room visiting with loved ones. No emails to read in the moment, text messages from others, or newsfeed ads that drew your attention away from the people who were in your presence. Conversation and time spent together was more important than internet access or having a phone in your pocket ready to scroll through. I long for that simpler time when life’s pace was slower and less superficial.
The second side of the instant gratification bombardment isn’t so noticeable, but it is real and full of pressure none the less. The middle class in this country has all but vanished. There are now a very, very small group of people who control everything. A large majority have suffered with non-existent wage increases over the last two decades – some needing two full time jobs to simply make ends meet. No longer can one family member make a decent enough living to put kids through college, pay for medical bills, and retire on a company pension. Every earned cent is going to simply survive paycheck to paycheck.
When the “endless deferment of fulfillment” truly seems endless and non-existent, it’s no wonder people don’t want to work anymore. It’s no wonder they drain their home equity and savings accounts to buy that boat or to take that exotic vacation, because if not now, when? It’s no wonder they take the road of instant gratification to the point of selling everything they own to live in a van and travel the country – a popular trend the past few years.
They want to be happy NOW. They want to experience joy NOW. They don’t want to contemplate a time when living in a van just doesn’t work anymore – when age or children or consequences make it impossible. Instant gratification is such a motivating force – making us believe now is the only thing that matters. Forget about a tomorrow that may never come! But what happens when it does?
All those years, the wealthy didn’t want to delay their own gratification for a stronger, more vibrant workforce – taking some of those record setting profits and investing in their workers or their country. And now, the result has been a whole segment of society that looks at capitalism as corrupt and beyond fixing – seeing a socialistic approach as the only thing that will ever be fair, equitable, and self-gratifying. We all know how history has proved that wrong!
Did you ever think these attitudes would surface or be considered feasible in America? Instant gratification is truly a form of greed. That greed has nurtured a workforce that isn’t motivated or loyal and emboldened management to be uncaring and inconsistent.
What happens when everyone is in it for the short-term? What happens when my instant gratification is more important than anyone else’s around me? What does society look like when everyone is focused on their own pleasure and happiness NOW – especially at the expense of someone else?
More importantly, how can I become more disciplined, patient, and long-suffering in a world filled with people looking for the immediate thrill and instantaneous satisfaction?
Realize How Instant Gratification Short-Circuits Divine Timing and Divine Intervention
When we let our immediate desires drive our decisions and choices, we end up eliminating a super-natural element vital to fulfilling our intended destiny. When we allow our ego to “Edge God Out” of the equation, we disregard His omniscience and His perfect timing.
Because we want it NOW, we foolishly ignore the fact that God is aware of all that has, is, and will happen down the road. We ignorantly believe our immediate actions can produce better outcomes than God’s perfect ways and His perfect timing. When we go the direction of instant gratification, we close the door on these two important truths.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” – Psalm 37:7 NIV
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways!” – Romans 11:33 Amplified Bible
These spiritual truths, along with all the fruits that come from our spiritual nature (i.e. love, faithfulness, trust, patience, peace and self-control) are in direct opposition to instant gratification. Split second, in-the-moment decisions that are based solely on our desire for immediate fulfillment and gratification can be categorized as ego-driven, humanistic choices that often fly in the face of our created purpose.
Lasting Satisfaction in Life Takes Time to Unfold and Develop
“Instant gratification is not as good as that gratification that comes dripping slow, over the sere seasons.” – David Barthelme
“The obsession with instant gratification blinds us from our long-term potential.” – Michael Dooley
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Good things take time.” Love that is nurtured over the years becomes a bond that cannot be severed. Self-control executed over time creates a discipline that is powerfully habitual in all walks of life. Faith that has stood the test of time deepens trust and creates a lasting peace that can be possessed in all circumstances. None of these things develop in an environment of instant gratification.
Think about the moments in your own life where instant gratification resulted in any long-term satisfaction and contentment. Did making short-term decisions that centered around fulfilling immediate desires ever turn out wonderfully over time? Did they set you up for future success or favorably impact your loved ones? Did your short-term choices around gratification have a life-long, positive influence?
I’m certain the answer to these questions is a resounding “No!” 😊 Often what comes fast and easy can never be sustained and generally ends up limiting our future potential.
Are you currently facing the desire of instant gratification in any aspect of your life right now? Can you see the role your ego plays in making choices that are short-lived and limited in their fulfillment? Can you see how these kinds of decisions “Edge God Out” – devaluing His perfect timing and omniscient intervention? Can you see the dramatic difference between long-term, life-long satisfaction and pleasures that instant gratification provides?
I pray that each of us who are struggling (myself included) invite God back into our circumstances – surrendering our choices to His perfect ways and His perfect timing – opening the door to long-term satisfaction versus a short-lived form of gratification.
“For surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18 NET Bible
God bless! 😊