Everyone human is longing for some version of what might be called “satisfaction”. We might use terms like fulfillment or meaning. The truth is, what we really want is something to make sense of it all. We want life to not be so hard.
There is a strange sort of compulsion in us. One that says we shouldn’t have to hurt so much. It shouldn’t be so difficult. And there is a long line of things promising to be the answer to this longing. To rescue us from hurt. To turn away our pain. To provide peace and happiness and purpose for the rest of our days.
But is this even possible? Is the whole promise a package of lies? One of the strong arguments for Christianity is that we are seeking satisfaction in the wrong things. But it is not as though Christians are living a life completely free of worry or doubt or sorrow. Perhaps the hard truth is that we will never be truly satisfied.
Everything from soda advertisements and jewelry commercials, political candidates and religion, promises to provide the satisfaction we are looking for. It is not an exaggeration to say that everything we pursue in our lives is an attempt to feed this compulsion for understanding and fulfillment.
I wonder if we do harm by making these promises. Because satisfaction, in the way we define it, will always elude us. We will never be exempt from suffering. We’ll never be immune to confusion. The fact of the matter is that we live in a world of imperfection. We live lives of imperfection. And we will never be satisfied.
Should we look to God to satisfy us? Or should we give up our quest of satisfaction? Neither works by itself. The truth is more the latter than the former.
The reason satisfaction will forever elude us is because we have a poor definition of satisfaction. We have a superficial and internally focused perception of what satisfaction entails. Nothing has caused Christians more trouble than believing God will satisfy them in the way they expect to be satisfied.
God satisfies on his terms. He satisfies not by taking us out of suffering but equipping us to handle it. He does not feed our compulsion to understand, but calls on us to exercise faith in the one who does.
There is sorrow and woe and disappointment. Because we are human. There is no escape from it. Chasing our superficial ideas of satisfaction is like chasing the wind. It is what Ecclesiastes calls “vanity”.
God offers us satisfaction on his terms. Meaning of his design. From the time of Job, this reality has confused and frustrated us. And it will continue to do so. But there is also a beauty to it. Our imperfect humanity drives us into intimacy and dependency on the God who is greater than us. Our disappointments feeds our trust in something outside ourselves. It invites us to pursue things like faith and trust and humility. Things that would drift away if we ever achieved our versions of satisfaction.
So, what we need is not to stubbornly pursue our own satisfaction, but to participate in God’s. The irony is that laying aside our self-serving definition of satisfaction frees us up to experience an even greater version.