As you know, I have been thinking about how I’ll never be satisfied. And that all of the beautiful things I’ve gone after – romantic love, success, pleasure, adventure, money, clout – won’t ever fully do for me what I hoped they would do. Rather, they are meant to point me (and you) to God, who is the only One who can complete us. Well, I’ve had another breakthrough in this area that will hopefully help us both.
When I’m lost in the fog of discontent, life always feels a little incomplete, or broken, or cracked. And so I’ve caught myself wishing I’d finally get to the place where everything is perfect: my work situation, my health and fitness, my schedule and free time, the lives of my loved ones….
Let me be more specific:
I’m wishing for my parents to know Jesus as their leader, forgiver, and friend.
I’m wishing for my allergies to go away.
I’m wishing for my body to stop aching.
I’m wishing for my best friend to finally meet someone and fall in love.
I’m wishing to really be appreciated at work.
I’m wishing to finally get caught up on sleep.
I’m wishing for a mentor to just be there for me and invest in me.
I’m wishing for my kids to reach another milestone that will make my life easier.
And it feels like life can’t ever be good – until these things happen. There is always something missing. Always something yet to happen. Always at least one thing wrong that needs to be made right. Always at least one way that God still has to come through to make everything okay.
Obviously, this is very problematic. I am wishing my life away. Constantly looking to get that next wish granted, that next prayer answered, that next problem solved. As if it will finally get me where I’ve wanted to get all along.
I am wishing my life away. Constantly looking to get that next wish granted, that next prayer answered, that next problem solved. As if it will finally get me where I’ve wanted to get all along.
But there’s a verse that keeps popping up in my mind that I’m trying to drive down straight into my heart.
Jesus said to his disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble.” The NLT translation says “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” The CEV says, “While you are in the world, you will have to suffer.”
Whoa. We don’t like to dwell on such unpleasant thoughts, even though the history of the human race confirms it.
While you are in the world, you will have to suffer.
I think God is trying to get me to understand that I will never arrive at a place where everything is perfect.
Where everything lines up in my life and in the lives of those I care about.
That place does not exist, but I still childishly think it does.
When I was a kid and even a teenager, my eyes weren’t fully open to all of the various crappy and unfair and messed-up things that can happen in life. I was relatively oblivious back then, focused on very few things (like school, and girls, and sports), and not really thinking about my health or job or aging parents or bills or heavy responsibilities.
Everything was comparatively easy when we were young.
And then we grew up.
But I still reason like a child. “This can’t be!” “This needs to be resolved!” “This has to happen!” “How can I ever really enjoy this life unless….” I may not say those out loud, or even phrase them that way in my head, but the way I approach life sometimes really does betray these sentiments.
I still reason like a child. “This can’t be!” “This needs to be resolved!” “This has to happen!” “How can I ever really enjoy this life unless….” I may not say those out loud, or even phrase them that way in my head, but the way I approach life sometimes really does betray these sentiments.
I know I am supposed to find contentment in any circumstances, like Paul learned to do. I know that I need to give up my childish demands and ways of thinking, now that I am a man. But I’m finding it very difficult because my expectations and demands for rightness and completeness are so ingrained. For decades, I mistakenly assumed that I could build, or reach, or attain my own “heaven” here on earth. That everything could be great on every level if I just worked hard enough, prayed hard enough, and did my part. Now I know from experience that’s simply not possible, nor is it what God has for us.
That’s just not the way this life works.
Every loose end will not be tied up in my life. Every prayer will not be answered. Every goal will not be accomplished. And every hope will definitely not be fulfilled. It just won’t. It stinks, but it is the truth. It’s reality.
I don’t think I should stop hoping or praying or wanting certain areas of life to get better. Frankly, I need to believe in a big, capable God who is all about redemption and restoration and healing. We all need that. I also don’t think I should stop doing my part to move the needle forward in any of these areas. What I do need to do, though, is to let go of my need for everything to eventually be perfect.
Heaven will be perfect, but life on earth will never be. But life is still a gift to us. Gifts are meant to be good. And life can still be really good and marked by many beautiful moments, despite all that is pending, incomplete, or broken.
I just have to recognize it for what it is.
And give up trying to make it into something it can never be.
Image source: https://bit.ly/3mAk6iA – Getty Images