I’ve been thinking recently about satisfaction. Is it something that can be attained in this life for the follower of Christ?
I would conjecture that many, if not most, lost people are at some level aware of and distressed by the gap in their lives that can only be bridged by God. And I think many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to fill that gap. They strive to find satisfaction by any means possible and to no avail, thus fulfilling the gloomy observation of the preacher in Ecclesiastes 6: “All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied”.
However, I also believe that there are a number of well-integrated lost people who do feel a great deal of satisfaction with their lives. How a person finds any satisfaction at all outside of a relationship to Christ boggles my mind. But I believe some lost people attain a form of temporal satisfaction.
So what do we make of the unsatisfied Christian? Is being unsatisfied a bad thing? Because I have a confession to make: I feel unsatisfied much of the time. Now, let me explain what I mean: by “unsatisfied” I do not mean “ungrateful”, or even “unhappy”. I have been blessed beyond blessing, and this I know well. Anyone looking at my life circumstances would agree with that. Regardless of the winds of trouble that blow on my life from time to time, God has been very, very good to me. So, with my lot in life I am far from unsatisfied.
And yet there is an uneasiness, a longing for joy in my core that sometimes speaks with a very loud voice. As David wrote:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1 (ESV)
My understanding is that David wrote those words while physically in the desert, and his surroundings served as physical representation of the soul-thirst that he felt for his God. That being said, I believe David would agree: sometimes being in the desert is not such a bad thing. What growth he experienced in the hot sands! I’ve found in my own desert times that I cling to God more tightly, that I seek Him more earnestly than ever, that I do thirst and faint for His presence. And His presence and comfort become very real.
Yet for all that, here on earth we are kept (and for good reason, I believe) from experiencing God in His fullness. We are broken and bent, and even when redeemed and cleansed we are still too frail to endure His glory. While our victory was won for us on the cross and confirmed in the resurrection, there are reasons why we still have to practice faith, hope, and love. Faith, because we trust in what we cannot see. Hope, because what we will be still dwells in the future.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. – 1 John 3:2 (ESV)
And love, because God is love, and we are God’s expression of Himself to a lost world, and to each other. And then back to Him as well. And Love will endure when there is no longer need for either faith or hope, because all shall be seen, all shall be known, and we will finally have become what He created us to be, unbroken, unbent, glorified and standing joyfully in His presence.
For all my talk of satisfaction and the desire to earnestly seek after Christ, I know that much of it is just that, talk. The world calls me, comfort calls me, compromise calls me. I wonder why I’m not satisfied and the uncomfortable answer is that, while no follower of Christ can be completely satisfied until he is home, I have, in so many ways, made the world my home and become comfortable here in this far land. Therefore the trudge toward my real country has become wearisome. There’s something about running with weights tangling your legs that makes for an unsatisfactory journey.
But my desire, hopefully to be coupled with action, is to set my sights more fully on the finish line ahead, and on the One who completes my faith. To cast off these weights. For joy and satisfaction for the Christian can be felt – even if only in snatches here on earth – when we are running unencumbered. When, smiling and with our head thrown back, we speed on our swift course with the landscape surging past us as we press on toward the goal.
. . . that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:10-14 (ESV)