Holy Land Pilgrimage


March 7, 2020

As you’re reading, January 1st may be nothing but a distant memory. More than likely, so, too, are all those New Year’s resolutions we’ve made. That usually happens because we rely on willpower, and willpower rarely works. Willpower here differs from the will to power used by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which seems to rely on the basis of the expansion of poweror control over something.

The concept of willpower I am referring to is easier to grasp when we understand its scriptural basis. The Biblical Greek word for “will” is “thélēma”( from “thélō” ), often translated as “to desire/wish.” It’s the idea that we can achieve a goal when our  true desires match our objective. That meaning is drawn from the very nature of God. As a perfect and sinless Being, the Lord is free of inner conflict, so whatever He wills comes to pass.

But we humans struggle greatly with inner conflict, don’t we? And that often places our desires in direct conflict with our goals. Take exercise as an example. We may wish to lose twenty pounds, but if what we truly desire is to eat ice cream every night, we’ll soon find our willpower breaking down with a spoon in one hand and a banana split in the other. The reality is our wishes are never strong enough to overcome our true desires for very long.

The solution, then, is to ask God to help us understand the inner areas that hold sway over our desires. So – back to the weight loss example for a moment – after examining our motivations, we may discover we eat junk food to pacify emotional pain that’s never healed. If that’s the case, then to the degree we find healing for that inner struggle and resolve it, the need to cover the pain will, likewise, go away.


So whether it’s weight loss, a well lived Christian life, or letting go of that bad habit, are you relying on willpower to achieve your goals? If so, you may have to put in some work to get your true desires to align with your objectives. That will certainly include seeking God in prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and it may even require the listening ear of a friend or, if the hurt is deep enough, the guidance of a counselor. But if you stay on the journey, your willpower can be strengthened over time and work for, rather than against, you.

The great news of achieving whatever goal we’ve set for ourselves this Year is that we’re not on our own; Christ is readily with us. The season of Lent could be a period for us to renew those commitments of a deeper Christian living based on daily practices of self giving love. And these practices of seeking God in all things can lead to true transformations.


[This post relied on a plan suggested by the Evangelist Jim Daly]

Francis Gyau

 Diocese of Las Cruces

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