August 31, 2014.
I am currently watching a tv series on netflix called House, M.D. which follows a very intelligent doctor who seems to be mad at the world and addicted to pain killers for a malady of his leg that was the result of an improper diagnoses. Now House leads a department of diagnostic medicine that deals with diagnosing hard cases that other doctors cannot figure out. Don’t worry, I’m not going to keep rambling about a show I like, but throughout the show House is in constant search for something that I think we all intrinsically want or even need. Satisfaction. He has an addictive and obsessive personality probably stemming from the lack of contentment he has found. He throws himself into his work, which is basically all about solving puzzles, and gets some level of satisfaction when he cures a patient, but he is never completely satisfied (or at least he hasn’t been yet in what I have seen). Though it is a fictional series, I think the way House feels is very relevant in our world today. I don’t think House is alone.
There are many ways to reap satisfaction, if only in the short term. We all have our creature comforts, the things that make us feel most complete. Some people find temporary satisfaction in money, others in their work. There is another series that I have seen advertisements for (aptly titled Satisfaction) that completely embodies what some people (if not all of us at one point or another) think is the answer to our desires, giving the audience a taste of the lust portrayed therein, promising more risqué scenes to entice our desires. We as a human race all seem to be chasing this idea of satisfaction as our desires keep begging us for more and more. But are we ever completely satisfied?
Perhaps you know where I’m going with this, but I don’t mean this post to be the stereotypical, cliché “you should just love God more” answer. That answer leaves a very bad taste in my mouth as I hear judgment and a lack of understanding. Ultimately we might come to the conclusion that we do indeed need to improve our love for God, a trait that we should continuously work on, but I think that this quick answer solves no problems, portrays no solid advise and leaves the one who is searching for satisfaction at a loss. I think we need to understand satisfaction before we can go after it in a healthy manner.
So what is at the root of satisfaction? This is not a trick question. The root of our need for satisfaction is our desires. We are hungry, so we need food to fulfill our hunger. We lack self-confidence, so we need compliments to keep us going. And yes, we have a sexual drive that is satisfied through intercourse. These are not absolutes for every person on earth, as we all have different desires that long to be satisfied, but they are a few of the most common ones. Since some desires are innate (I didn’t choose to be hungry), we must conclude that we were made with desires and that they serve a purpose. I think this is the first step in controlling our desires: admitting that they are not inherently evil.
Satisfaction is not a bad thing, at least not always. We are given desires that lead us to seek satisfaction. If we find that satisfaction through godly means, we have not done anything for which we should be ashamed. Have a desire for food? Eat your dinner with thanksgiving (I Tim. 4:4-5). What to feel more confident, seek encouragement from others through hard work, as for the Lord (Col. 3:23-24). Can’t control your sexual desires? Find a believing spouse (I Cor. 7:2). The problem doesn’t come in until we seek satisfaction outside of God’s will or let our desires take precedence over God in our heart. It is true that our desires were originally holy, meant to glorify God in everything we do. But we have taken them, living in a fallen world, and stretched them beyond their scope, making them unhealthy and focused on immoral things. It is in these cases that we need to look to Christ who supplies our every need.
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”
(I Timothy 6:6-11)
I have heard the point made before that even when we have everything we want, we will still will never be satisfied. This is a biblically sound concept, as you can see from the words of the wise man in the Old Testament. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes his organized and thorough pursuit of happiness. He tires everything. And I mean everything. Money, love, entrainment, sex, food, drink- you name something that might make you happy and he tried it. Why not? He was crazy rich with peace from his enemies on all sides. Read the book of Ecclesiastes and you will see a truly discontent man, because he has realized that nothing in this world can bring him the satisfaction he needs (ref. chapter 2 especially). The closest he can find is for man to enjoy the labor of his hands, for it is the gift of God. At the end of the book, a remarkably profound statement is made:
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man”
I often refer to this as the answer to the question of the meaning of life. See, whereas we can find temporary satisfaction in the joys and pleasures of the world, we will never find complete satisfaction. God has set eternity in our hearts, and something will always be missing if we do not call upon his name. We are lost, we are hopeless, we are living in a broken world. He is the great physician ready to heal our hearts. He is ready to fill the void. But often we push him out and try to force square pegs in to the round void. We do this because the lust of the eyes is so enticing. But it is worth nothing in the long run. We must be like the Hebrew writer describes Moses:
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
God is who we need. We need to seek our satisfaction through him and his will for us to be happy. He has made a way for us to be satisfied in a holy way. Seek this way. It will not always be easy. Actually, often it will be very difficult. But it will be worth it, for in the end we will find complete satisfaction and joy in the Lord. What a marvelous day that will be.
Suggested Daily Reading: Ecclesiastes 2, 5, I Timothy 6, Philippians 4.
Peace be to you.