We Were Not Meant to Be Satisfied Here

A year ago, in a post on this blog, I wrote something that struck me as quite profound this morning:

Ultimately, anything claiming to be “good news” is going to promise similar things.

I hadn’t read the post since I had written it, but something about the way I phrased that hit me like a ton of bricks. Mainly because there have been many times in the ensuing 365 days I’ve given into the lies of the false “good news.”

The idea behind “good news” is that it’s a piece of information that promises to be good. It promises to bring hope, peace, joy, happiness, satisfaction. Those are all things the Gospel of Jesus offers through the forgiveness of sins, something so incredibly radical we can’t fully comprehend it. But there are many things in this world that proclaim themselves to be “good news” that really aren’t “good news,” but boy, do I buy into the lie. We buy into the lies.

Examples of that “good news”:

Sexual satisfaction. We think that through finding pleasure in sexual activity outside of marriage we will be satisfied.

Positive attention from people. We think that through finding acceptance from the people around us we will be satisfied.

Academic/work achievement. We think that through finding success in the classroom or in the workplace we will be satisfied.

There’s tons of “good news” out there. But as I looked through Luke 6 this morning, I found something quite peculiar. Jesus is talking to His disciples and says a couple things that struck me as odd for a moment. Verses 21 and 25:

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied…Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

I found it odd that I’d run across what I wrote a year ago and what I was looking at in the Scriptures this morning in the same day unless God was trying to teach me something. Maybe it is sheer coincidence, but it taught me a lesson that I needed to learn.

Blessed are those who are hungry now because they realize the things of this world cannot truly satisfy them and eagerly anticipate the arrival of what can truly satisfy: knowing God face-to-face. Heaven is the place where we will be truly satisfied, where there will be no tears, no pain. Heaven is the place where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new'” (Revelation 21:4-5a). 

Woe to those who are full now because they have sought their fill on this earth. They have bought into the lies of the earthly “good news” and have already found satisfaction in the things of earth. But that is not how it is supposed to be. We were never designed to find full satisfaction on earth.

Romans 8:23-25 says,

…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We wait for the full satisfaction of our desires with patience, because we know that it is coming. We know that Christ’s return is the culmination of all our hunger, all our longing. And it will be glorious.

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We Are Joy Seekers, Pt. 1: Looking in the Wrong Direction for What Satisfies Most

I’ve learned something over and over this year that Blaise Pascal explains quite succinctly: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception…This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”* We’re all looking for happiness in something. We look for satisfaction. We look for joy. We look for fulfillment.

As I was reading the introduction to John Piper’s Desiring God today (where I found that Pascal quote), I came to this one conclusion: The root of all sin is the misdirection of our pursuit of joy. Let me explain what I mean.

Man seeks to find joy in basically three places: himself, others or things.

got-joyWhen man seeks to find joy in himself, he looks for satisfying happiness in who he is and what he does and how that reflects on who he is. The scholar might say, “Well, look at my grades and my academic prowess, I feel quite happy.” The athlete might say, “Well, look at my trophies and my medals and my stats, I feel quite happy.” The businessman might say, “Look at my office and my salary and my title, I feel quite happy.” The person who seeks for joy in himself will be consumed with himself and his thoughts and feelings and moods.

I’m there.

When man seeks to find joy in others, he look for satisfying happiness in how he relates to others and how others relate to him. The high school sophomore will look at his girlfriend and might say, “She makes me happy because she likes me, I feel quite happy.” The college freshman will look at his friends he goes out with on the weekends and might say, “They make me happy because they make me feel important and liked, I feel quite happy.” The over-worked and under-appreciated wife will look at her girl friends (or maybe even another man) and might say, “They make me happy because they actually care about me, I feel quite happy.”

I’m there.

When man seeks to find joy in things, he looks for satisfying happiness in his possessions or in certain activities. The CrossFit junkie will look at the gym he works out at and the work out he’s just completed and might say, “Man, I just killed that workout without a problem, I feel quite happy.” The shoe-loving college girl will look at her footwear collection and might say, “I love how many shoes I have and that I can wear them, I feel quite happy.” The music lover will scan through his iTunes collection and might say, “I have so much good music that I can listen to at any time, I feel quite happy.”

I’m there.

Because I’m there, I can tell you that the music collection, the girlfriend and the grades DON’T bring full satisfaction. They can bring happiness, but only temporary. How many people that love music are ever fully satisfied with the music they currently have? How many guys are ever fully satisfied with either one girlfriend or where they are with their girlfriend? How many students are fully satisfied with one A?

Before I make my point, I’m going to say one thing: there’s nothing inherently wrong with strong academic performance, strong athletic performance, strong business performance, having a girlfriend, having friends to hang out with, doing CrossFit, buying shoes or listening to/having lots of music.satisfaction_opt

But when we seek after joy in these things, we’re missing something so much greater. Also quoted in Piper’s Desiring God, C.S. Lewis wrote:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on make mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.^

And because we are far too easily pleased in the short-term with things that seem so easily obtained, we don’t seek for what will satisfy us long-term.

I’ve been thinking on this a lot this school year because I’ve so often sought after the short-term pleasures of attention, affection or pleasure found in temporary, silly things, and seek after them daily. But alas, I’ve found a better way.

Second part coming soon…


 

* Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Pensees, trans. W.F. Trotter (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1958), 113, thought #425. Cited in John Piper, Desiring God (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah, 2011), 19.

^ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1965), 1-2. Cited in Piper, Desiring God, 20.