I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
(Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
One of C. S. Lewis’ greatest contributions to the Christian faith was his articulation of the argument from desire. Alister McGrath offers a simple and concise summation of Lewis’ position.
“Lewis was aware of certain deep human emotions which pointed to a dimension of our existence beyond time and space. There is, Lewis suggested, a deep and intense feeling of longing within human beings, which no earthly object or experience can satisfy. Lewis terms this sense ‘joy’, and argues that it points to God as its source and goal.” (Alister McGrath, “C. S. Lewis, Defender of the Faith”, C. S. Lewis and His Circle: Essays and Memoirs from the Oxford C. S. Lewis Society)
Everyone has desires. Thirst is the desire for water. Hunger is the desire for food. We have sexual desires. We desire oxygen to fill our lungs. Each of our desires has an object that satisfies said desire. Water satisfies thirst. Food satisfies hunger. Lewis argues there is a desire within each of us that is never satisfied. Why? If every desire within us has an object that satisfies it, then why is this one desire never satisfied? Lewis suggests it is because we were created for something more. It is a longing for our true homeland. This desire points to God.
Our world is not right. What we experience in our everyday lives is not the world as God intended it to be. Ever since the fall, human beings have lived in a world corrupted by sin. We still see glimpses of God’s beauty and glory in the world. Our world is not all sin. When we look around, we are still able to recognize God’s good creation, but we are also aware of a disease that has forever altered the way things are. Because we are created in the image of God, we long for things to be made right. We long for redemption.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22-23)
The deep longing within us for something more points to God and the redemption of all things, but this lack of satisfaction with the way things are may be broader than we imagined. To understand the desires we have, and how they will be satisfied, we must ask three important questions: What do we long for? What has been corrupted by sin? What will redemption look like? We long for God, but we need to be careful not to stop there because the presence of God influences many things in our life. God is the source of joy and peace. God causes us to fully enjoy one another. God is love. When sin entered into the world, it disrupted all things. Work, something present prior to the fall, became hard labor. Relationships were disrupted. Pain, disease, and death were introduced into the world. God’s plan is to redeem creation. Sin will not win. What has been made imperfect by sin, God will redeem and make right again.
In short, here are the answers to all three questions:
What do we long for? God
What has been corrupted by sin? All things
What will redemption look like? All things will be redeemed
All of this is important to understand because our longing for something more may be at times much more specific than some mysterious desire within us that is never satisfied. For instance, we may experience a lack of satisfaction in our relationships with others. It is possible to receive joy from the relationships we have with others while at the same time not being fully satisfied. This can be quite confusing, but I believe it is something we should expect. The more we grow in Christ and the more our spouse, friends, co-workers, etc. grow in Christ, then the more satisfaction we will experience in our relationships with one another. At the same time, we will probably never be fully satisfied with our relationships on earth because we live in a fallen world. We long for something more. We long for a relationship with someone else without the negative influence of sin.
From time to time, we all experience a lack of satisfaction in our lives. Sometimes there are remedies on this earth for the longings we have, but other times there is not. Other times we cannot get any satisfaction. Perhaps some of the dissatisfaction we feel in life could be nothing more than an indicator of something that is lacking but will be fulfilled in the life to come. We may devote ourselves to a vocation and receive fulfillment from our many years of service while at the same time feeling like we were created to do more. We may experience much love in our life, but still feel as though there is a love greater than all the love we have received. We may have had numerous conversations in our life that have blessed us, but still believe there is a conversation we need to have that will bless us in ways we cannot imagine. I don’t believe these small longings in our life are unusual. I don’t believe they are something that should cause us concern, but instead, I believe they are an indicator of what is to come.
We can experience much joy and fulfillment in this life, but we will always long for something more. It is not until Jesus returns, and God redeems all things that we will find the satisfaction we desperately long for. We will then experience love, relationships, vocation, conversations, and much much more as it was intended to be. The life to come will not be marred by sin. We experience God’s goodness in this life, but it is only a taste of the goodness we will know in the new heavens and new earth.